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History of London City Airport

London City Airport:

So how did it all begin?

In 1981 Reg Ward, the Chief Executive of the newly formed London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) discussed the idea of an airport for Docklands with Sir Philip Beck (Chairman of John Mowlem & Co plc).

In November an outline proposal was submitted for a city centre gateway. In June 1982 a Dash-7 aircraft lansa on Heron Quay demonstrated the feasibility of the airport project and in August a feasibility study was published by LDDC.

An opinion poll was published by October showing many local residents were in favour of the proposals and Mowlem submitted an application for planning permission. Public enquiries into the planning permission were started in 1983, and proposals were approved in 1984 - as long as noise control conditions were adhered to. May 1985 saw the outline planning consent granted from the secretary of State.

Construction work was launched by the Aviation Minister in 1986 and the Prince of Wales laid the foundation stone of the terminal building. The airport was officially named by the Mayor of London in 1987. The year to follow saw several routes being licensed and commercial flights were started. November of this year saw the official opening by The Queen.

15,000 passengers had used the airport by the end of the year. In 1988 the airport launched a 35 minute river bus service to and from central London and the airport handled 133,000 passengers.

Services to Rotterdam, Lille and Strasbourg were started in 1989, and in the same year planning permission was submitted to extend the runway as over 216,000 passengers used the airport. In 1991 the Secretary of state approved expansion plans but passenger numbers fell to 172,000 after the Gulf War.

In March 1992 the Princess of Wales visited the airport for the official re-launch of London City and the extended runway. Several new services are announced and passenger numbers rise to 186,000. Over the next few years many new services begin and by the end of 1995 passengers reach over 555,000. London City Airport Ltd was sold to Irish businessman Dermot Desmond during this year.

London City won two industry Awards in 1996 and passenger numbers rapidly increased after this. In 1997, more new airlines and destinations were added, the departure lounge was redesigned and developed and passenger numbers reached over 1 million. As a result of this approval was given to increase the number of passenger flights in 1998 and over 37,000 flights were made that year.

In 1999 several improvements to the airport were made. These included a covered dock edge walkway, a terminal business centre refurbishment and the Jubilee line opening to passengers. 2000 saw many changes with British European launching new destinations, real time flight information and bookings being made available online. Refurbished restaurants were opened and a planning enquiry was put forward for the Docklands Light Railway.

In 2001 the airport won Business Travel 'Best Business Terminus' world award for the fourth time. More improvements were made to the arrivals and check in areas and planning approval was given for a new runway link.

The Secretary of State approved the extension of the DLR to airport. The airport celebrated its 15th Birthday and 10 millionth passenger in 2002.

Many new services were announced in 2003 including British Airways flights to Edinburgh, Paris, Geneva and Frankfurt. This year work began on extending the DLR and the airport won several more awards including European Regions Airline Association's Airport of the Year Award. London City Airport DLR station opened in December 2005, providing rail access to the airport for the first time. In October 2006, the airport was sold to a consortium comprising AIG Financial Products Corp. and Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP).

In May 2008 the airport completed the construction of four new aircraft parking stands and four new gates to the east of the terminal. The departure lounge was also refurbished and extended during that time.

In 2010, London City Airport completed a multi-million pound project during which the terminal and passenger search facility were redeveloped.

London City Airport continues to develop as an important London gateway with 11 airlines flying to over 30 destinations and the handling of approximately 3 million passengers a year.