London City Airport got the approval for the airport development programme in February 2015. Image courtesy of London City Airport Ltd.
Terminal expansion at London City Airport is the major part of the project. Image courtesy of London City Airport Ltd.
The City Aviation House beside the terminal will be replaced by a new office building. Image courtesy of London City Airport Ltd.
Seven additional aircraft parking stands will be created at the airport as part of the expansion programme. Image courtesy of London City Airport Ltd.

Recognised as the most punctual airport in the UK, London City Airport (LCY) has received consent to extend its aviation capacity under a £344m ($451m) expansion programme. The airport submitted a planning application to the London Borough of Newham for the City Airport Development Programme (CADP) to expand its current infrastructure, in September 2013. The planning application was approved by the council in February 2015.

The airport received planning permission from the UK Government to begin the expansion, in July 2016. The expansion will increase the annual flight movements to 111,000 a year, from the current capacity of 70,000.

The expansion programme, to be completed by 2023, will provide LCY with additional short-haul aviation capacity, while doubling its economic impact to £1.5bn per annum. It will also generate 1,600 new jobs and 500 construction jobs while delivering a world-class international gateway to London.

Purpose of London City Airport expansion

The London City Airport expansion is proposed to meet the projected growth of passenger traffic and flight movements. The airport witnessed more than 84,000 aircraft movements and handled 4.3 million passengers in 2015, which is expected to reach 100,000 and six million respectively by 2021.

The projected growth will be led by the increasing demand for air travel by the business class in London. The strategic location of the airport, which is just three miles away from Canary Wharf, seven miles from the City of London and ten miles from Westminster, makes air travel a preferred choice for business travellers.

The current facilities at LCY are inadequate to meet the increasing demand; so the existing facilities need to be upgraded to cope up with the growth.

The airport follows a unique 20/10 passenger preposition that promises passengers a 20min check-in from door to gate and a ten-minute arrival from tarmac to train. With the increase in flight movements and passenger traffic, proper infrastructure improvements are necessary to uphold the promised times.

By 2016, the airport is to be served by next generation aircraft, which are much efficient and bigger in size. The existing parking and taxiway infrastructure lacks the capacity to handle these aircraft, making upgradation of the aviation facilities essential to increase the airport’s growth potential.

Residents of the borough also have felt the need for the airport expansion. In a study conducted prior to the approval, 68% of Newham residents strongly supported the expansion, while 20% were neutral.

London City Airport expansion project details

The proposed airport development plan emphasises on maximising the use of existing infrastructure. It aims to achieve the permitted flight movement without constructing a new runway or upgrading the existing runway.

The expansion covers an area of 60.1ha and includes major extension to the existing terminal, including the construction of a new passenger pier. Airfield improvements include the construction of seven aircraft parking stands, and taxi lane extension. A new dockside design will constitute a multi-modal entrance forecourt in front of the terminal building, a hotel and parking facilities.

The passenger terminal building will be extended towards the west to create more space and facilities for the passengers and staff. Baggage handling systems, customs and security areas will be upgraded to handle the projected passenger numbers. The entrance forecourt area of the terminal will be re-arranged to make better use of the space.

A 260-bed airport hotel will be constructed beside the remodelled airport entrance. The taxi parking, vehicle pick-up / drop-off area and bus service will be reconfigured. The area before the airport will be further utilised by moving the short and long-term passenger parking, and staff parking towards east.

Seven new aircraft parking stands will be built towards the east of the existing parking stands whereas four current stands will be upgraded. To enable their construction, the current passenger pier will be extended towards east.

A parallel taxiway along the runway will also be extended to allow aircraft to land-on and take-off from the runway quickly. A landside pontoon will also be constructed at the eastern end of the new parking stands for emergency services.

A new office building will replace the current City Aviation House located beside the existing terminal. Old offices will be demolished and the office facilities will be moved to the new premises.

Other works will include the construction of a fire station, and creation of emergency access points and baggage processing area.

Contractors involved

The design and build contact for the CADP was awarded to London-based architectural firm Pascall+Watson.

The firm submitted the initial plans for a major upgrade of infrastructure and passenger facilities to the Newham Council in September 2013.

Lagan Construction received an airfield infrastructure contract from London City Airport in March 2016. The scope of the contract includes overlaying the existing runway surface, as well as widening and reinforcement of the taxiways.