London City Airport Moves To End Saturday Flights Ban

The proposal is part of a plan to grow capacity through more flexibility rather than building new infrastructure.

Credit: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images

London City Airport (LCY) wants more flexible operating hours for flights, particularly on Saturdays, as a way to increase capacity at the airport.

LCY expects to handle 3 million passengers this year and predicts the airport’s current maximum capacity of 6.5 million annual passengers will be reached “by the middle of this decade,” according to an LCY statement. The airport seeks to expand capacity to 9 million annual passengers by 2031.

LCY’s operating hours are limited because of noise concerns—the airport is located close to central London. There are no night flights and no operations between 1 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday. LCY said it wants to raise capacity levels “without requiring any additional infrastructure.”

Instead, it seeks to loosen some of the airport’s operating restrictions. The 10:30 p.m.-6:30 a.m. overnight window in which flights are not allowed would remain in place, but LCY said it would like “additional flexibility” in the first and last 30 min. of each day, likely meaning more flights allowed during these two half-hour periods. 

Most significantly, the airport would like to be able to operate on Saturday afternoons and evenings, which LCY maintains could account for a significant amount of additional capacity. Flights would still not be allowed on Sunday mornings.  

“The plans come with a commitment from the airport that only cleaner, quieter, new generation aircraft, such as the Airbus A220 and Embraer E2, would be allowed to fly in the new operating periods,” LCY said in a statement.

The airport will be doing a series of public consultation events in the coming days to detail its plans, and has opened a 10-week period for public comment. 

“London City Airport plays an incredibly important role in quickly and easily connecting London to the rest of the UK and the world for both business and leisure travel,” LCY CEO Robert Sinclair said in a statement. “The strength of our rebound demonstrates the huge pent-up demand for air travel and the need to plan responsibly for the future … During the 10-week consultation we want to hear from everybody so that we have the most informed plans for the future as possible.”

KLM Cityhopper CEO Warner Rootliep said he supports “more operational flexibility” at LCY, noting: “London City is a key airport in our UK network, providing fast and convenient connections to and from the rest of the world via KLM’s hub at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS). KLM has recently acquired a fleet of new generation Embraer E195-E2 aircraft, which is ideally suited to airports like London City.”