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).
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.
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.
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 the airport. The airport celebrated its 15th Birthday and 10 millionth passenger in 2002. In 2010, London City Airport completed a multi-million-pound project during which the terminal and passenger search facility were redeveloped.
The Airport terminal was given a £7 million investment in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games held in London in 2012. The money was used to increase the size of the Central Search area, as well as making major improvements to the main terminal facilities.