In 1987 the one pound coin existed. In 1987 you needed to find a telephone box to make a call and there were 20.5 million cars in the UK as against 34.5 million today. Air travellers needed an eight-part ticket coupon. And London City Airport was about to be born.
On Thursday 5 November 1987 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opened London City Airport (LCY). It was a momentous occasion not only for the airport but also London. In its first full year LCY moved 133,000 passengers. In 2016 the figure was 4.6 million.
In a fascinating new book Malcolm Ginsberg takes the reader through the history of the London Docklands, once the busiest port in the world, the controversial birth of the airport and with it the parallel development of Canary Wharf, ExCeL London, and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Nicknamed LCY (the official airport code) it is a fascinating story that our enterprising Victorian forebears who built the docks would have praised. A short chapter compares 1987 and 2017, and The Timeline takes you through the years.
Without the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC), and its dynamic Chief Executive Reg Ward, it would never have started. Without Bill Bryce of Brymon Airways and the de Havilland Canada (DHC) Dash 7 aircraft it probably would not exist today. It was Sir Philip Beck (Chairman of John Mowlem & Co Plc) who put the two together and built the airport.
Malcolm Ginsberg takes readers through a brief history of the most exciting urban development in the UK since World War II and with it the reinvention of the West India Docks and its dominant feature the 50-storey One Canada Square, Britain’s tallest building prior to the opening of The Shard in 2013.
He draws a parallel with the world outside Docklands, often dramatic events that affected London, and with it the airport.
On 27 June 1982 Brymon’s Captain Harry Gee landed a Dash 7 aircraft on Heron Quays, in the West India Docks, in order to demonstrate the feasibility of a full size passenger aircraft flying in and out of a densely populated area of East London. Later that year the LDDC published a feasibility study, an opinion poll amongst local residents showing a majority in favour of the development of the airport.
The first aircraft landed on 31 May 1987, with the initial commercial services operating from 26 October 1987.
In 1988 British Aerospace demonstrated the feasibly of jet operations in the airport with the BAe146 ‘whisperjet’. In 2009 British Airways opened a non-stop service from New York Kennedy with a specially adapted Airbus A318. Headwinds in the other direction meant a refuelling stop in Shannon. The airport was really on the map. For the future the Bombardier C Series can make JFK non-stop.
On 2 December 2005 Ken Livingstone, by then Mayor of London, who had opposed the airport, cut the tape for the London City Airport DLR station. Today, 61% of its passengers use the station to access the airport.
Today London City Airport is owned by a consortium of international infrastructure companies that includes the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), OMERS Infrastructure, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) and Wren House Infrastructure Management Limited, the infrastructure investing arm of the Kuwait Investment Authority. Plans for a £400 million redevelopment, which includes a parallel taxiway, seven new aircraft stands and an extended passenger terminal have been approved, with works commencing later this year. Crossrail, the Elizabeth Line, runs within 100 metres of the airport. No station as yet!
At £25 it is the ideal Christmas present for the regular traveller and the aviation enthusiast.
LONDON CITY AIRPORT – 30 Years Serving the Capital