Flight plans


A consultation on the planning application for London City Airport’s expansion plans runs until 17 March. If approved, more planes will be flying over Wanstead, says John Stewart of campaign group HACAN East

Wanstead faces the prospect of more aircraft at the weekend if London City Airport’s expansion plans go ahead. The plans are currently out for public consultation. London City wants to fly planes on a Saturday afternoon for the first time. At present, no aircrafts are permitted between 12.30pm on Saturdays until 12.30pm on Sundays, in order to give people a break from the noise.

London City now wants to change all that. It is seeking permission to fly on Saturdays until 7.30pm (6.30pm in the winter months). It also wants more planes during the first half hour of the day. The aim is to carry 2.5 million more passengers by around 2031.

The public consultation started on 15 February and runs for a month until 17 March. It is being conducted by Newham Council, the planning authority for the airport. At the time of writing, Newham has not provided email or postal details of where to send responses. I imagine they will go up on the council’s website.

The reason behind the proposals is London City’s desire to attract more leisure passengers. For most of its 35-year life, City has been largely a business airport, but in the year before Covid, business passengers only accounted for 50% of all travellers through the airport. Post-Covid business travel has been slower to recover than leisure. London City believes that Saturday afternoon flying will help boost the leisure market.

The airport has said that it will only permit the newest available planes to operate on Saturday afternoons and during the early morning. The expectation is that if airlines are required to use the newest planes at these times, they will in due course use them at all times. The new planes are larger and cleaner, but over Wanstead, they will not be noticeably quieter. They are being promoted as about five decibels less noisy on departure close to the airport, but only two to three decibels quieter elsewhere. A reduction of two or three decibels cannot be picked up by the human ear.

Newham has decided to run a very limited consultation. It will hold no public meetings and is just leafleting homes close to the airport. It is informing most of the overflown boroughs, including Redbridge, but the fear remains that most residents impacted by the airport will not know about the consultation.

Later this year, probably in the summer, Newham’s Strategic Development will consider London City’s application. If it gets the go-ahead, the airport aims to have the new plans in place by 2024.

For more information on the consultation, visit wnstd.com/lcaconsult

For more information on HACAN East, visit hacaneast.org.uk