London City airport has begun a ten-week consultation on potential changes to its operational hours, including the extension of Saturday operations.

Noise restrictions mean LCY currently has to close between 1300 on Saturday and 1230 on Sunday, but the airport is seeking “additional flexibility to operate on a Saturday afternoon and evening, as well as additional flexibility in the first and last half hour of daily operations (0630-0700hrs and 2200-2230hrs)”.

According to the FT the second point would allow for the flexibility to operate up to 12 flights between 0630 and 0700 six days a week (up from the current six), and for “more leeway to allow late-arriving aircraft to land after 2200 rather than divert”.

If successful the airport said that it would commit to only operating “cleaner, quieter, new generation aircraft” such as the Airbus A220 and Embraer E2 during the additional hours of operation.

LCY also stressed that the current eight-hour night-time curfew would remain, as would restrictions on operating flights on Sunday mornings, and no increase to the current annual limit on flights is proposed.

The airport said that its plans had been welcomed by LCY’s biggest carrier British Airways, with Tom Stoddart, CEO of BA Cityflyer, stating that the proposals would “provide more choice and flexibility for our customers, increase local jobs and help to drive London’s economic recovery”.

KLM is another key carrier at the airport, and Warner Rootliep, managing director of KLM Cityhopper highlighted that the airline had recently acquired a fleet of Embraer E195-E2 aircraft, adding that “more operational flexibility will help us grow this vital route using our new aircraft, reducing noise and emissions”.

The ten-week non-statutory consultation will include seven public events between July 12 and 21, as well as pop up events through until August.

“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,” said the airport’s chief executive officer Robert Sinclair.

“The strength of our rebound demonstrates the huge pent-up demand for air travel and the need to plan responsibly for the future. Most importantly, following our commitment to be the first net zero airport in London by 2030, these proposals set out how London City and its airlines can meet future demand in a sustainable way.

“In particular, it will accelerate investment in cleaner, quieter, new generation aircraft, for use in the extended periods, delivering the benefit of quieter aircraft to our local community throughout the whole week. During the ten-week consultation we want to hear from everybody so that we have the most informed plans for the future as possible.”

Pre-Covid the airport had been in the middle of a £500 million development programme including the extension of its existing terminal, but these plans were paused at the end of 2020.

At the time Sinclair stated that LCY had “taken the decision to focus our attention on delivering the vital additional airfield infrastructure which will provide our existing and prospective airline customers with the potential to bring new generation aircraft to this airport in greater numbers”.

London City airport to pause terminal extension plans