Despite the political and economic uncertainty, London is continuing to grow and is
expected to remain a major global city for business and tourism.
London’s population has increased every year since 1988 and currently stands at almost 9m.
Brexit may have cast a temporary cloud over London’s short-term prospects, but new corporate offices are still being built in the city centre, including for Facebook, Apple, and Google, which is gearing up to open a new £1bn headquarters.
The growth story is even more compelling in east London, which in recent years has benefitted from the successes of Canary Wharf, the Olympic Park, and the Royal Docks – a driver of widespread regeneration, home-building and job creation.
Against this backdrop, we can expect demand for air travel to and from London to continue. Whether for business or leisure, more people will need to travel here.
London attracted 40m tourists in 2017 and we know how important it is for the business community to connect with new markets. London City Airport is the smallest of the five London airports, but our central location and frequent flights to major cities in the UK and Europe provides vital business connectivity.
Increasing numbers of leisure passengers and international tourists are also benefitting from its speed and convenience. Last year, we served a record 4.8m passengers and we’re on course for over 5m this year. New forecasts project demand for 11m passengers and 151,000 flights by 2035, which still only represents about four per cent of the London air travel market.
Our new draft master plan, which is published today, sets out how we can meet continued demand, support London’s growth, and help the capital maintain its domestic and global connectivity through to 2035, all whilst growing sustainably.
The fight against climate change is a significant global challenge and we fully support the commitments of the government, mayor of London and mayor of Newham to reduce emissions over time and achieve net zero by 2050.
Sustainability frames our draft master plan; we are committed to the net zero target and to becoming a carbon neutral business by 2020. Airlines also recognise the challenge and are planning for the future by beginning to re-fleet to new generation aircraft.
Our draft master plan embraces new technology, including quieter, cleaner aircraft that are up to 17 per cent more fuel efficient and emit less carbon emissions than their predecessors.
The next several decades could see hybrid and electric aircraft be able to operate over 1,000 miles, potentially transforming the way we fly. While this technology is still in its infancy, we welcome innovative new developments.
Building on our position as the UK’s best performing airport for public transport use, we see a future with more capacity and earlier services on the DLR; walking, cycling and river routes to the airport; and the potential for a Crossrail station. In turn, public transport use could increase to 80 per cent of our passengers by 2035.
The master plan includes no plans to build a new runway or to significantly extend beyond our current site boundary. Rather, in keeping with the government’s aviation strategy, it sets out how to make best use of existing infrastructure and, most importantly, retain the current noise contour cap, meaning that noise from aircraft will not be permitted to grow beyond current limits.
Our response to continued demand for air travel must be responsible and sustainable. That is why we are consulting with Londoners. A series of events will take place across London, including one in the City, at 80 Basinghall St on 11 September, and we look forward to hearing what you think.
Robert Sinclair is the CEO of London City Airport