Air­port pauses £480m plot to ex­pand as few want to fly

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Alan Tovey

‘Match­ing 5.1m pas­sen­gers who trav­elled through the air­port last year will take longer than ini­tially hoped’

LON­DON City air­port is halt­ing its ex­pan­sion plans fol­low­ing a col­lapse in busi­ness travel by Square Mile bankers.

The Dock­lands air­port will pause a £480m pro­gramme to boost pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity once con­struc­tion on eight new stands for air­craft and a taxi­way par­al­lel to the run­way is fin­ished at the end of the year.

It comes af­ter the pan­demic sent de­mand for busi­ness travel plum­met­ing. City is favoured by fi­nance ex­ec­u­tives be­cause of its prox­im­ity to cen­tral Lon­don and Ca­nary Wharf, and has been par­tic­u­larly hard hit.

The air­port shut down in March when coro­n­avirus was at its most in­tense and did not re­open un­til June 21.

Pas­sen­ger num­bers are yet to re­cover. Bosses warned that im­prove­ments in avi­a­tion have been slower than ex­pected, with de­mand still well be­low nor­mal lev­els.

Match­ing the record 5.1m pas­sen­gers who trav­elled through the air­port last year will take longer than ini­tially hoped, they said.

Once com­pleted at the end of the year, the mod­i­fi­ca­tions cur­rently be­ing built will al­low City to han­dle 45 take­off and land­ings an hour as well as mod­ern air­craft such as the Air­bus A220.

The air­port has wel­comed back four air­lines since re­open­ing, in­clud­ing BA City Flyer, with more ex­pected to re­turn over the au­tumn.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Robert Sin­clair said he and the air­port’s own­ers re­main con­fi­dent about its long-term prospects given its lo­ca­tion in the heart of Lon­don. But he also called on the Gov­ern­ment to help re­store con­fi­dence in the avi­a­tion mar­ket.

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