News

More space for passengers and planes at LCY

11 Jun 2008 by Mark Caswell

Departing
passengers using London’s
City Airport (LCY) now have more room to breathe following a significant
expansion in facilities.

Unlike many
other airports LCY doesn’t have individual airline lounges so departing
passengers share a common area once they have cleared the security checks. This
zone had become increasingly crowded as the airport has grown.

“We’ve
opened up some much-needed accommodation [for departing passengers] by taking
over what was previously the business centre and some back office areas,”
Richard Gooding OBE, the airport’s chief executive told Business Traveller, “after
all, it’s the passengers who pay our wages. It means we can no longer be accused
of offering passengers limited space [in the departures’ area].”

The extended
lounge which comprises different seating areas was fully opened on Monday
(June 9). Besides an extra 250 seats there are more retail outlets, bars and
eateries.  There are also moves afoot to offer
free wi-fi throughout the terminal and airport area.

Space
constraints mean the check-in hall downstairs (the departures zone is on the
upper level) cannot easily be enlarged. 
But passenger throughput can be increased with the introduction of extra
self check-in machines. These will be located in the centre of the hall,
replacing former airline ticket desks.  “We are investing in common-use machines
[these are not restricted to a particular airline] because they will increase
the check-in capacity and because one system is more efficient,” says Gooding.

Out on the
apron there’s more room for planes to park. Last month LCY opened up a new area to the east of the terminal (it
occupies a 20,000 square metre concrete platform over the King George V dock) plus
an additional four new gates at a cost of £30 million.  

“We now
have capacity for five million passengers,” notes Gooding, “so to make full use
of everything we have we have applied to uplift the number of plane movements
[defined as a landing or takeoff] from 80,000 to 120,000.”

LCY
continues to grow at a fast pace. This year it expects to handle 3.5 million up
from 2.9 million last year and 2.3 million in 2006. But will growth be hit by
the credit crunch and City woes?  Says
Gooding, “We are growing strongly but not as much as before. But we don’t
believe the current slowdown will be permanent.”

Still on
the cards for the third quarter of 2009 is the launch of British Airways’ New York service which will
be operated by a long range version of the Airbus A318.  The 32-seater “baby” Airbus will adopt an all-business class configuration with flat bed seating. It will make one stop
westbound (probably Shannon where it’s hoped
to pre-clear US customs and immigration) but will operate non-stop eastbound.

BA is expected
to operate twice daily on weekdays with departures from LCY in the late morning
and late afternoon. The return flights will both depart New York (the exact airport has yet to be
decided) in the evening with arrivals into LCY at 0700 and 0930 the following
morning.

For more
information go to londoncityairport.com.

Report by
Alex McWhirter

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