London City encounters barriers to modest expansion plans: part one – disruption blamed for verdict

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The rationale behind London City Airport when it was first envisaged in the early 1980s is every bit as justifiable today as it was then: to offer the growing business community air services to UK and European cities from a small local facility in the capital's new financial district and redeveloped docklands area, with the additional potential for leisure routes for the local population generally.

The airport has consistently done that, but it has faced ever-growing opposition from two boroughs in particular, Newham and Tower Hamlets, and largely on environmental grounds. Nor has it been able to win the hearts of either of the last two London mayors, and it remains disconnected from the heavy rail network.

In 2020 it promised to expand carefully, without any new infrastructure, and in its most recent proposal it merely requested a little tinkering with opening times and a minor expansion of morning operating hours, in return for enforcing the use of cleaner 'new generation' aircraft.

But the Newham Council saw fit to reject the proposal outright, which prompts the question - what future is there for the airport while these political battalions are lined up against it? With a London mayoral election scheduled for May-2024, the airport and its future direction is set to become an issue that candidates will not be able to bat away or skirt around.

This is part one of a two-part report.

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