City airport hit by travel cutbacks

LONDON City Airport has seen a 15 per cent fall in passenger numbers so far this year, as its customers, who are typically well-heeled financial executives, tighten their belts.<br /><br />The airport, located near the ExCeL centre in the Docklands, has suffered as City institutions cut back on business trips and opt for cheaper alternatives like teleconferencing.<br /><br />The slump contrasts with a bumper year in 2008, when the company paid its shareholders a dividend of &pound;93m and passenger numbers rose 12 per cent. <br /><br />Accounts filed with Companies House show the airport delivered a profit of &pound;32.2m, nearly double the &pound;15.4m made in 2007.<br /><br />A spokesperson said the rate of decline in passengers this year had slowed after a steep slide in the first half. The total number of passengers is expected to come to 2.8m compared with 3.3m last year.<br /><br />She added: &ldquo;Like all UK airports, we are looking at a slowdown but we have still had a good year thanks to adding a New York service with BA. We are now starting to see passengers travelling again.&rdquo;<br /><br />London City Airport plays host to 12 airlines and is favoured by City workers due to its no-queues policy, which means the average time to pass through security is less than two minutes.<br /><br />Last year the airport spent &pound;50m as it bought new aircraft parking stands. This year it will spend &pound;7m on its departure lounge and security lines. It is owned by Global Infrastructure Partners, which is buying Gatwick from BAA.