Belfast Telegraph

London City Airport gets expansion go-ahead with 32,000 more flights planned

A £344 million expansion programme at London City Airport has been given the go-ahead by ministers who hope it could provide a £1.5 billion boost to the British economy by 2025.

The plans include an extended terminal, a new aircraft taxiway and parking spaces for planes, as well as upgraded public transport links.

London City Airport estimates the scheme will allow it to handle up to 32,000 more flights per year and create 1,600 jobs for staff, together with 500 construction jobs.

The announcement comes amid continued delays over a decision on the expansion of Heathrow or Gatwick.

David Cameron was expected to make a decision on the rival expansion projects shortly after the European Union referendum.

But his resignation following the victory for the Leave campaign means the decision has been left for his successor as Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Chancellor Philip Hammond hailed the investment at London City Airport as a "vote of confidence in the resilience of our economy".

The planning decision was formally approved by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid.

The Government said the airport would provide a " generous" compensation package to local residents affected by increased air traffic.

Mr Hammond said: "London City Airport's ambitious growth plans will boost international connections, strengthening the City of London's links to destinations across the world, and send a clear signal that Britain is open for business.

"Making it easier to visit and do business in the City of London will help drive forward our economy and further strengthen the city's status as the world's leading financial centre."

Mr Grayling commented: " London City Airport is an engine for growth in the City, serving the community in which it operates and providing a vital link to our regional airports and the rest of the country."

But John Stewart, chairman of Hacan East, which campaigns against aircraft noise, claimed residents face a "double whammy".

He said: " Earlier this year London City concentrated all its flight paths. Today the people under these flight paths face the prospect of more and larger planes.

"The airport claims that the expansion will create over a thousand jobs. That is in the realm of speculation. What is certain is that residents' quality of life will get worse."

Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell described the decision as "reckless", adding that people in east London are "really going to suffer" due to noise and pollution.

London City Airport's chief executive Declan Collier insisted the Government has " shown it is ready to act in the best interests of the British economy".

He went on: "As the airport serving by far the highest proportion of business travellers in the UK, who do some £11 billion of trade in Europe annually, today the Government has sent a strong message that London and the UK are very much open for business. I welcome the decision and look forward to delivering new airport capacity for the South East by 2019."

He said the expansion would allow the airport to accommodate the new generation of short haul aircraft which have a larger wingspan, such as the Bombardier C-Series, whose wings are built in Belfast.

"We handle about 80,000 flights per year," Mr Collier said,

"We can generate probably another 30,000 to 32,000 extra flights per year through these new facilities."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised the decision on expansion, saying it would bring " much-needed new employment" to the area and show that " London is open to trade and commerce globally".

He added that he was pleased " conditions have been put in place" to limit the impact on noise and air quality.

A Heathrow spokesman said the announcement " signals the Government is committed to ensuring Britain has the 21st century infrastructure it needs", while Gatwick claimed it demonstrated "what can be done when an expansion scheme that is deliverable is chosen".