London City airport should close, think tank warns

Its site should be redeveloped to create jobs, boost local business and build new homes, a report recommends.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 13 May 2014

London City airport accounts for just 2.4% of London's total flight demand and makes ‘no economic, environmental or social sense’, the report from the New Economics Foundation (NEF) said.

‘Set in a prime location, London City Airport ... contributes to London’s poor air quality, carbon emissions and community blight in surrounding Newham (already one of London’s most deprived boroughs), and causes noise pollution across much of east and south-east London. Generating relatively few jobs for locals, its benefits are felt almost exclusively by wealthy business people travelling to and from Canary Wharf and the City of London,’ it added.

Instead the think tank recommended passengers could use Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted. It also said that Crossrail, which is due to be completed in five years time, will greatly reduce journey times between east and central London and major airports such as Heathrow, and therefore business travellers could get across London far more easily.

London City airport carried 3.3 million people last year and ranks as Britain’s 15th largest airport. It opened in 1987 to appeal to the rising number of City workers going on short-haul trips. The average income of its passengers is £92,000, in an area of the capital where 40% of people earn less than £20,000.

The airport added about £110m to the UK economy last year, compared with the £513m brought in by the ExCel exhibition and conference centre across the River Thames, according to the study.

But City airport said the NEF’s proposals would ‘turn the clock back 30 years’ and would close London to business. ‘The move that would put some 2,000 people out of work immediately (and prevent the creation of 1,500 jobs by 2023), remove £750m a year from the British economy, and have a long-term negative impact on the revitalisation and regeneration of east London,’ it said in a statement.

However, with authorities saying London can't keep pace with air travel demand, MT can't see the government taking the idea of closing an airport very seriously.

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