Interesting times at London City Airport

posted on 14th May 2019
Interesting times at London City Airport

London City Airport (LCY) is an interesting time as record numbers are being flown in and out of the airport which is also in the middle of a revamp.
Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer, LCY said the gateway welcomed 4.8 million passengers in 2018 via 11 airlines operating, all mainly flag carriers like British Airways and Lufthansa and will pass five million in 2019.
“We are seeing record passenger numbers despite the economic and political uncertainty,” he says. “Part that reflects the strength of the London market which is a constrained market and growth in London is happening in the east.”
Sinclair says London feels “awfully insulated” for the moment from Brexit as it has record traffic and strong load factors, but he is still cautious of any impact although he doesn’t think London is going to lose its premier status as the major financial capital of the world.
“The London market is just very constrained with Heathrow in particular and we are just a small part of it, so we are not unduly concerned about Brexit but clearly we would like to see a resolution sooner rather later so we can all move on,” he says.
The airport is in the middle of an expansive £500 million development programme that will transform it to meet rising future demand.
“It is a really big project, very comprehensive. It contains a parallel taxiway, eight new aircraft parking stands, terminal extensions to the east and west, car parks, forecourts, piers and additional security and baggage capacity,” he says. “We are building a new airport in the middle of London while we are operating an existing one.”
LCY has always had a reputation for being a ‘business-friendly’ airport due to its location to the financial centres of London, and is known for the quick turnaround of flights, but the passenger traffic mix is changing.
“It is the really interesting thing and is the changing nature of LCY over the last seven years and changing nature of our airlines,” Sinclair says. “Go back five or six years ago 80% of our passengers were on business mostly point-to-point to key business centres around Europe like Geneva, Zurich and Luxembourg where now the traffic split is more like 50/50 (with leisure).
“Our airlines are seeing the nuance of having a more balanced portfolio of launching routes not just to dedicated routes for leisure but also to routes that have a got a mixture of business and leisure.”
Sinclair says the airport has been working with airlines to look at LCY as part of a global network and it has had some real success in the last 12 months with major EU carriers that are bringing in services into their EU hubs.
These include KLM which flies to Amsterdam nine times a day, LOT with services to Warsaw and Budapest and soon to Vilnius, TAP Portugal to Lisbon with good connections to South America and Aer Lingus four times a day to Dublin and on to North America.
As for the future, Sinclair says the business sector remains key but it is also targeting the premium leisure sector and it is aiming to add connections to Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Madrid, Barcelona, Stuttgart, Cologne – major cities where airline to get a mixture of business and leisure traffic to support yields and load factors.
He adds: “There are a lot of point-to-point links and major cities we do not cover and a number of flights to connections to major hubs major EU airports like Paris CDG (Air France), Brussels (Brussels Airlines), and Helsinki (Finnair) with connections to Asia. There is a lot to go after.”