London City Airport Consultative Committee

Airport History

The history of London City Airport




Home >  About the Airport >  Airport History Site Map (Alt+1>Enter)


On this Page:

Brief History year by year

1981  1982  1983  1984  1985  1986  1987  1988  1989  1990 1991  1992  1993  1994  1995  1996  1997  1998  1999  2000   2001   2002   2003  2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Paul Hogan's book: London City Airport Through Time

See also:
* the LDDC's Press Releases about the Airport;
* London City Airport - The Early Years - 2008 article by Malcolm Ginsberg (.pdf 31kb)
* The early airlines


More History Pages:
About the Airport - Home Page (Alt+2)
Before the Airport (Alt+3)
Origins and Early History (Alt+4)
1982 Airport Feasibility Study (Alt+5)
Public Opinion Surveys 1982/83 (Alt+6)
1983 Inquiry Report (Alt+7)
Constructing the Airport (Alt+8)
1990 Airport Inquiry Report (Alt+9) 
From the Archives (Alt+0)


The video clips on this page are extracts from the Airport's 2001 "Delivering the Vision" presentation.  They are .wmv files and require a Windows Media Player

Top of Page



LONDON CITY AIRPORT has its origins in the regeneration of London's Docklands and its early history is closely linked to that of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC), the government agency which in the 80s and 90s took the lead in managing the regeneration of the area. 

It was in September 1981, with the LDDC only weeks old, that the idea for a Docklands airport first surfaced in a discussion between Reg Ward, the Corporation's new Chief Executive, and Philip (now Sir Philip Beck), the Chairman of John Mowlem and Co plc, the big construction company with a long history in the docks. In those early days Reg saw the Royal Docks as a transport interchange and Sir Philip said that such a venture should include an airport. Reg jumped at the idea and Sir Philip, himself a pilot, took the idea to Bill Bryce of Brymon Airways, the Plymouth based airline which specialised in the use of Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) aircraft including the DHC Dash-7.  Within weeks Mowlem and Brymon had worked up an outline of a STOLport for the Royal Docks and with LDDC support the project was launched.  It turned out to be long haul and it was nearly six years before the first passenger carrying flights took off. Much has happened since.

On this page we offer a brief history of the Airport year-by-year since 1981 and there are links to other more detailed articles about the development of the project and securing approval for it, not only as a planning concept but also among local people.

Top of Page

Airport History year by year


  • September: Reg Ward - Chief Executive of the newly formed London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) - discusses with Sir Philip Beck (Chairman of John Mowlem & Co plc), the idea of an airport for Docklands
  • November: Mowlem and Brymon submit to LDDC an outline proposal for a Dockland STOLport (Short Take Off and Landing) city centre gateway.

Top of Page

View looking east, 1981
Dash 7 on Heron Quay 1982
1981 - looking east along what is now Runway 10
Demonstration landing at Heron Quays on the Isle of Dogs - 1982

Top of Page


  • Dash-7 trips to Plymouth for key stakeholders and community leaders to experience the quiet airliner in operation.
  • 27th June: Brymon Captain Harry Gee lands a Dash 7 aircraft on Heron Quay to demonstrate the feasibility of the STOLport project.  (Video Clip - 724kb) 
  • August: LDDC publishes feasibility study
  • October: Opinion poll among residents shows two to one in favour of the new airport
  • Mowlem submits application for planning permission


  • Mowlem reaches agreement with the Port of London Authority to lease land in the Royal Docks.
  • 8th June - sixty-three day Public Inquiry begins in former PLA office building in the Albert Basin brought back into use for the purpose.
  • 30th June - Harry Gee returns to Heron Wharf with a Dash-7 to demonstrate its quiet STOL capabilty to the inspector at the public inquiry1982 view of Airport site

Top of Page


  • August - Secretary of State indicates he is disposed to agree the application for outline planning permission but asks for more work on the framing of the conditions and especially on a more easily understood system for controlling noise - see letter.


  • March - GLC fails in High Court challenge to secure the re-opening of the inquiry
  • May - outline planning consent granted by Secretary of State (Patrick Jenkins)


  • February - detailed planning consent given by LDDC.
  • John Douthwaite
  • Construction work launched by Aviation MInister, Michael Spicer.
  • The Prince of Wales lays foundation stone of the terminal building (29 May). (Video Clip - 390 kb)
  • August - First Airport Director, John Douthwaite, takes up his appointment. He was succeeded in 1988 by Bill Lindsell
  • October - Steering Group set up to establish the Airport Consultative Committee meets for the first time


  • February - Airport officially named by Mayor of London St David Rowe-Ham.
  • April - Brymon and London City Airways granted route licences by the CAA
  • 31st May - first landing by a DHC-7 of Brymon Airways (Video Clip - 429 kb)
  • 30th June - Consultative Committee meets for the first time.
  • Aerial view of runway  1987
  • 26th October - Brymon Airways and Eurocity Express (later renamed London City Airways) start commercial flights with Dash 7s. 
  • 5th November - official opening by the Queen (Video Clip - 374kb)
  • 18th December - Flights to Paris suspended because of safety fears.  Services were resumed in January with new ATC arrangements [More]
  • 15,000 passengers use the Airport before the end of the year

Top of Page

First landing - Ma7 1987
Queen opens Airport - Nov 1987
Aerial View 1987
First Landing - May 1987 Queen opens Airport
- November 1987
Aerial View 1987


  • Airport launches 35 minute river bus service to and from central London (Video Clip - 920 kb)
  • Eurocity Express changes its name to London City Airways
  • 24th July - successful demonstration flight by BAe 146 (Video Clip - 387 kb)
  • Bill Charnock appointed as Managing Director
  • Bill Lindsell takes over from John Douthwaite as Airport Director [Press Release]
  • Poll shows 83% of local residents in favour of the BAe 146 being allowed to fly from London City.
  • Plaque unveiled at original Heron Quays DLR Station to commemorate the trial Dash-7 landings there in 1982
  • Airport handles more than 133,000 passengers
Bill Charnock appointed as Managing Director
Unveiling the plaque at Heron Quay - (L to R) Brymon Chairman Charles Stuart, Capt Harry Gee, Charlie Beilby & Sir Greville Spratt (Mayor of London) - reinstalled at new station 2005
Bill Lindsell succeeds John Douthwaite as Airport Director

Top of Page


  • Brymon Chairman, Charles Stuart, calls for DLR link to Airport.
  • April - Docklands Sinfonietta Concert for 700 people in the Main Concourse
  • October - Airport submits planning application to extend the runway, allowing the Airport to serve more distant destinations with a broader range of aircraft.
  • More than 216,00 passengers use the Airport

Top of Page


  • Bill Lindsell retires and his Airport Director duties are absorbed by MD Bill Charnock. Bill Lindsell enjoyed a long retirement and died in March 2007
  • July: Public inquiry begins.  It lasts (with Summer and Christmas breaks) until January 1991
  • London City Airways absorbed into British Midland.
  • Passenger total reaches 230,000


Princess Diana relaunches Airport 1992

Top of Page


  • 5th March - the Princess of Wales visits London City to commemorate the official re-launch of the Airport and its extended runway (Video Clip - 397kb) .
  • 30th March - BAe 146 jet flights begin with first Crossair flight to Zurich.(Video Clip - 308kb) .
  • October - Mowlem announces its willingness to sell part of its stake in the Airport
  • Passenger total rises to 186,000

Top of Page


  • March - Brymon leaves London City Airport
  • Limehouse Link and the other Docklands Highways open for traffic.
  • End of Riverbus service
  • Over 245,000 passengers use London City.

Top of Page


  • New services to Dublin and Geneva
  • Passenger numbers rise to almost 480,000, an increase of 96% over 1993.

Top of Page


  • March - Jon Horne appointed Airport Director
  • First ticketless air travel in the UK.
  • London City Airport Ltd is sold for £23.5m to Irish businessman Dermot Desmond.
  • Passenger numbers pass the half-million mark - 555,946.
Jon Horne Dermot Desmond (2002) Richard Gooding


  • Appointment of new Chairman, Mr Ray MacSharry.
  • July - Airport designated for the purposes of consultation by Order under s. 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982
  • August: Richard Gooding succeeds Bill Charnock as Managing Director. [Press Release]
  • Passenger total: 727,601

Top of Page


  • Planning approval granted to increase movements at weekends.
  • Birthday party for 4,000 local residents.
  • Avro RJ70 of Lufthansa CityLine
  • Sabena overnights a plane at London City - a first scheduled night-stop.
  • July - Annual passenger total reaches 1mmpa
  • London City celebrates its 10th Anniversary with two souvenir publications.
  • Departure Lounge redesigned and refurbished amalgamating international and domestic lounges and incorporating new retail outlets.
  • Passenger total: 1,165,318, a 60% increase over 1996.


  • February: Airport introduces its website - [Press Release]
  • April: Nick Raynsford, Minister for Lonodn, open refurbished Departure Lounge [Press Release]
  • June: Approval given for increase in the maximum number of passenger flights. [More details] [Press Release]
  • Car Park enlarged and resurfaced.
  • Passenger total: 1,358,774, a 17% increase over 1997
  • Number of flights 37,912

Top of Page

Enlarged car park 1988
Meridian Business Centre 1999
Car Park enlarged 1998 New dock edge walkway 1999 Business Centre refurbished 1999

Top of Page

1999Jubilee Line opens 1999

  • Covered dock edge walkway installed
  • Airport administration move from Terminal to City Aviation House
  • Terminal Business Centre refurbished
  • New ILS installed
  • Jubilee Line opens to passengers
  • Passenger total 1,388,481
  • Number of flights 44,195, up 17% on previous year

Top of Page


  • Real time flight information becomes available on-line.
  • Government announces £30m funding for DLR link to the airport.. 
  • Hertz is announced as the Airport’s third car hire operator.
  • The newly refurbished restaurants open. 
  • Full on-line booking becomes available.
  • Work starts on programme to refurbish Arrivals Hall
  • The one-millionth passenger of the year is welcomed earlier than ever before – 28th August. 
  • Planning inquiry into DLR extension to the Airport
  • ExCel Exhibition Centre opens
  • Work starts on the A13 improvements - completion scehduled for 2004
  • The Airport’s WAP based flight information goes live.
  • Planning applications submitted for the Operational Improvements Programme
  • Passenger total 1,580,234, an increase of 14% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 52,126, up 18% on previous year.
    New Baggage Reclaim Area New Meridain Restuarant

Top of Page


  • New Arrivals Hall completed
  • Terminal toilets refurbished
  • Planning approval given for extension of the apron, a new runway link and a runway holding point [Press Release]
  • Six new check-in desks installed
  • Airport closed for two days following terrorist attacks in New York on 11 September
  • Passenger total 1,624,015, an increase of 3% on the previous year.
  • Fire Simulator and Falcon 900EX
  • Number of flights 57,005, up 9% on previous year.

Top of Page


  • February: Airport celebrates 10 millionth passenger since 1987 [Press Release]
  • March: Government approves the Extension of the DLR to the Airport [Press Release]
  • Work completed on improvements at the west end of the Airport including new remote aircraft stands. 
  • New fire simulator commissioned. 
  • Scheme carried out to reconfigure the runway
  • September: Dermot Desmond opens new Jet Centre for corporate aviation
  • October: Wireless internet introdcued inteh airpot termnal [Press Release]
  • Airport granted Air Operators Certificate and commissions new Dassault Falcon 900EX tri-jet
  • Airport celebrates its 15th birthday [Press Release]
  • November: Valet parking introduced
  • Passenger total 1,604,773, down 1% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 56,102, down 2% on previous year.

Top of Page

Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, makes a presentation to Airport MD, Richard Gooding atthe Airport's 15th Birthday celebration The Airport's new Jet Centre - an FBO for corporate aviation The Runway 28 Holding Point - completed 2003

Top of Page

2003BA launch services from LCY - 2003

  • Work starts on extending the Docklands Light Railway to the Airport
  • Airfield Lighting renewed
  • Runway 28 Holding point completed [video clip 1.8mb]
  • 7th Fun Day raises £24,000 for Richard House
  • Passenger total 1,472,272 down 8% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 52,563, down 6% on previous year.
  • Corporate flights increased by 35% during the year carrying 16% more passengers.

Top of Page

Work in progress on Airport DLR station


  • Services to Basel and Munich resumed. 
  • Work starts on Airport DLR stationovernment approves an order to further extend the DLR Airport Extension under the River to Woolwich Arsenal
  • Airport celebrates the one millionth Edinburgh passenger since the service began in 1996
  • Airport launches Higher Education Scholarship Programme.
  • Staff move to the Airport's new HQ
  • Passenger total 1,684,545 up 14% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 60,500, up 15% on previous year.

Top of Page


  • Luxair launches jet services using the 37-seat Embraer E RJ-135 aircraft
  • Inquiry opens into Thames Gateway Bridge
  • Work starts on Woolwich Arsenal extension of DLR
  • Plaque unveiled at redeveloped Heron Quays DLR Station to commemorate the trial Dash-7 landings there in 1982
  • First trains run on the Airport Extension of the DLR
  • Airport celebrates the arrival of the one millionth passenger using the Rotterdam service
  • New SAS service to Copenhagen
  • Airport launches its ViaLCY travel service
  • Train services start on the DLR City Airport Extension - 2nd December 2006 [Pictures]
  • Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London officially opens the DLR London City Airport Extension - Tuesday 6th December 2006
  • Passenger total 1,997,922 up 19% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 70,912, up 17% on previous year.

Top of Page


  • January - Annual Passenger total reaches 2 mppa
  • April - Airport Master Plan published for consultation [More]
  • May - Airbus A318 visits Airport for compatibility tests [More]
  • May - Inquiry into Thames Gateway Bridge come to a close
  • May - 20th Anniversary of the laying of the Foundation Stone of the terminal [More]
  • October - AIG and Global Infrastructure sign agreement to acquire the Airport subject to EU merger clearance [Airport Press Release][AIG/GIP Press Release]
  • October - A318 again visits the Airport for proving trials
  • 30th November - acquisition of Airport by AIG and Global Infrastructure completed
  • Passenger total 2,377,318 up 19% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 79,616, up 12% on previous year.

Top of Page


  • January - Airport given permission temporarily to vary the daily air transport movement limits but without changing the overall annual total
  • January - Roy Griffins appointed non-executive Chairman of London City Airport [Press Release]
  • London City Airport Consultative Committee meets for the 100th time
  • Roy Griffins Sharon Preston
  • March - death of Bill Lindsell announced. He was heavily involved at Mowlems in the construction and early development of the Airport and was Airport Director from 1988 until his retirement in 1990.
  • May - Airport lets £19m contract for East Apron Extension project [Press Release]
  • June - University Prize Scheme launched
  • July - London City Airport Consultative Committee celebrates its 20th anniversary [Press Release]
  • July - Government announces Inquiry into Thames Gateway Bridge to be re-opened
  • August - Airport applies for planning permission to raise the limit on the number of flights [More information on application] [Press Release]
  • September - Sharon Preston, Director of Airfield Operations, wins "Woman in Aviation" Award
  • October - Shuttle bus service to local hotels launched
  • November - Scott Stanley appointed Chief Operating Officer [Press Release]
  • December - Air France KLM acquires VLM
  • Passenger total 2,928,920 up 23% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 91,489, up 15% on previous year.

Top of PageAt the the Airport’s 21st Birthday celebration


  • February - BA announce new serve to New York starting in 2009
  • March - BA opens new routes to Nice, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Warsaw
  • May - Enlarged departure lounge opened to passengers [Map]
  • May - East Apron Extension project completed
  • Bar Ten-28 opens in the refurbished Departure Lounge [Picture]
  • September: AIG's sells its share of the Airport and Highstar Capital buys a quarter share. The Airport is thus owned by Global Infrastructure Partners (75%) and Highstar Capital (25%)
  • October: Newham Council approves in principle the Airport's application to raise the limit on the number of flights [More]
  • 26 October - the Airport celebrates the 21st Anniversary of its operning for flights
  • November: Mayor abandons Thames Gateway Bridge and DLR Barking Extension projects
  • December: Work starts on Phase 2 of the refurbishment of the Departure Lounge
  • BA announces an order for 6 Embraer E170 aircraft and 5 E190s for use at LCY
  • Passenger total 3,271,716 up 12% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 94,763 up 4% on previous year.

Top of Page

    Darren Grover

    Bill Dunlop


  • January - Train services start on the Woolwich extension of the Docklands Light Railway
  • March - Death of Committee Vice-Chairman, Bill Dunlop
  • March - Phase 2 of refurbishment of Departure Lounge completed [More]
  • March/April - Embraer E190 visits LCY for validation trials [More]
  • July - Airport is granted planning permission to raise the limit on the number of flights [More information]
  • September - Terminal Enhancement Project announced. [More]
  • September - Noise Action plan published for consultation [More]
  • September - BA launch A318 Business Class services to New York (JFK)
  • October - The Airport's owner GIP agrees to purchase London Gatwick
  • October - Darren Grover appointed Chief Operating Officer in succession to Scott Stanley who moves to London Gatwick [More]
  • December - BA announces new services to Palma, Majorca and Ibiza from May 2010 [More]
  • Passenger total 2,802,296, down 14% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 75,678, down 20% on previous year.

Top of Page

2010At the the Airport’s 21st Birthday celebration

  • February - Baboo introduces the Embraer 190 to London City Airport [More]
  • February - Airport adds two new secuity lanes [More]
  • March - Control tower at London City Airport introduces electronic flight strips
  • June- London City Airport hosts Annual Liaison Meeting of UK Airport Consultative Committees (UKACCS)
  • July - Last RJ100 leaves the BA fleet
  • October - Airport welcomes its 30 millionth passenger
  • November - Study by York Aviation shows airport contributes £0.5 billion to local economy [More]
  • Passenger total 2,793, 813, down 0.3% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 67,917, down 10% on previous year.

Top of Page


  • January - Airport welcomes High Court decision on Judicial Review of decison on planning application
  • January - Cityjet begins new routes to Florence and Deauville
  • March - CityJet starts a new route to Pau, Skywork to Berne and Blue Islands to Jersey
  • May - CityJet starts summer routes to Toulin and Avignon
  • June - BA begins services to Faro and Malaga
  • August - New DLR Extension from Canning Town to Stratford
  • November - London City Airport launches ski microsite
  • November - Consultation begins on Airport Stand Replacement Project
  • November - Airport announces new Chief Executive
  • December BA -begins new winter routes to Chambery and Geneva
  • Schemes to upgrade check-in desks, renew the car-parks system and enhance the Airport's security facilities
  • Passenger total 3,005,759, up 7.6% on the previous year.
  • Number of flights 68,100 ,up 0.3% on previous year.

Top of Page


  • March - CityJet increases the number of flights to Edinburgh
  • March - BA starts self tagging
  • March - CAA Statistics show LCY is the most punctual airport
  • March - Altilia intoduces the E190
  • March - CityJet launches new route to Brest
  • April - BA begins services to Aberdeen
  • May - Services to the Isle of man resume
  • May - New BA services to the Balearics, Angers and Quimper
  • June - BA introduces year-round service to Palma and Ibitha
  • July - Airport wins ACI's 'Best Airport' award
  • July - Airport celebrates 1 millionth flight
  • December - City Airport's Development Plan (CADP) published for consultation
  • Paul Hogan's book published
  • Passenger Total 3,016,664, up 0.8% on the previous year
  • Number of flights 70,781, up 3.5% on previous year

Top of Page


  • January - CityJet launches new route to Nuremburg
  • March - Increase in the number of flights to Milan for the summer season
  • April - CityJet launches new route to Dresden
  • April - CityJet launches new route to Paderborn
  • April - Flynonstop launches new route to Kristiansand
  • April - Alitalia launches new route to Rome
  • July - BA launches new route to Granada
  • July- CADP Planning Application submitted to Newham Council
  • September - Newham Council consults on CADP Planning Application
  • November - Transforming East London Together event
  • Passenger Total 3,390,264, up 12.4% on the previous year
  • Number of flights 73,713 up 4.14% on previous year

More about the early airlines

Brymon Airways

This airline played a crucial role in the early history of the Airport.  They no longer operate as a separate entity - having been absorbed by British Airways. In 2010 Bruce Hales-Dutton wrote a very interesting history of the airline and this was published in the September 2010 edition of Aircraft - by courtesy of Bruce and the publisher we have produced a .pdf copy of the article (4.22mb) which you can see by clicking here. It is also worth looking at the Brymon Induction film and there are also some good Brymon history pictures at the very interesting heritage site provided by Stephen Johnson And Dash 7 enthusiasts should certainly visit the site run by Siefried Lenz.

London City Airways

This Airline, set up specifically to operate from London City, was wound up early in 1990.  Mike Blakesley, who worked for the airline, put together an interesting website about its history with lots of pictures and other material. But sadly the site is now for ex-employees of the airline - click here

There is an Edd the Duck video item on YouTube which makes use of London City Airways footage with pictures of their Dash 7 aircraft - click here

Top of Page


An independent Consultative Committee established by London City Airport pursuant to Section 35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982
John Adshead     Secretary: Stuart Innes

Page last modified: 28 January 2014