Benefits of City Airport expansion dismissed as ‘fanciful’

The economic benefit of London City Airport’s proposed expansion would be more than £200 million less than the airport claims, according to an independent study.

In a draft master plan published last year, the airport proposed increasing passenger numbers to 11 million by 2035, partly by increasing its hours of operation.

It estimates doing so would add £586 million to the economy but the study, commissioned by a campaign group opposing the plans, estimated this would be closer to £353 million.

The study highlights a number of concerns about how the airport reached its total, including double-counting, overestimating likely job creation and a failure to consider the social costs.

Main author of the report, Jasper Faber said: “We are in little doubt that the economic benefits of expansion are much lower than the airport has claimed.

“We discovered a number of key errors in the way the benefits have been calculated.”

The report was compiled by independent consultants CE Delft, who have previously worked for national governments and the European commission.

They were commissioned by HACAN East, a campaign group who oppose the expansion plans on environmental and noise grounds.

HACAN East chair John Stewart said: “The message of this report is clear. Many of the economic benefits London City is claiming for expansion are fanciful. They do not stand up to basic scrutiny.

“London City did not even include the economic costs of noise if expansion takes place. And yet the noise is already bad.

“London City impacts more people than any other UK airport except Heathrow and Manchester. Indeed some communities are overflown by both Heathrow and City aircraft.” 

In its Draft Master Plan, the airport proposed removing the 24-hour break in flights at weekends and allowing more early-morning and late-evening flights. 

The airport’s planning permission currently allows up to 6.5 million passengers and 111,000 flights, which it hopes to have increased to 151,000.

Management claim the proposed expansion would create 2,500 new jobs and add £210 million to the local economy alone.

A spokesperson for the airport said: “Based on an established track record of creating opportunities for local people and businesses, London City Airport stands by the long term economic projections outlined in the 2035 Master plan.

“However, given the unprecedented global events currently, we will not be providing a detailed response at this time so we can focus on operating the airport, keeping passengers safe and our staff in jobs.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter