London City Airport seeks sunnier outlook with holiday routes

London City Airport seeks sunnier outlook with holiday routes

The airport in London Docklands serving the financial communities of the Square Mile and Canary Wharf says that it is ready for take-off this year after its biggest tenant, British Airways, announced an ambitious reboot this summer.

With one eye on the traditional financial districts not being as well populated because of hybrid working, London City Airport is hoping to attract more holidaymakers to its airstrip next to the Thames.

Like the rest of the aviation sector the airport has had a rotten pandemic. It handled 5.1 million passengers a year before the onset of Covid-19 but that number crashed to 905,000 in 2020 and fell a further 21 per cent to 714,000 last year under the cosh of travel restrictions.

The airport believes that passenger traffic will not be back above five million until after the middle of the decade but it expects a surge in business this year, with airlines committing to as many as three quarters of the routes they were flying pre-pandemic in 2019.

In addition to its bread-and-butter financial routes to Amsterdam, Zurich, Geneva and Frankfurt and flying business people to and from Edinburgh, City is adding Milan, formerly a best-selling destination, and beefing up frequencies to Luxembourg.

Although the big short-haul operators such as Ryanair and easyJet cannot fly in and out of City because their aircraft are too large, the airport is hoping to cash in on sun and funseeker demand with a new route to Thessaloniki in Greece, Barcelona returning to the roster after a decade’s absence and services to Faro in Portugal and the Greek island of Mykonos.

After cutting its commitments at Gatwick, BA is taking a punt on City by expanding its more profitable CityFlyer operations there.

The recovery is already under way, said City, whose last six months’ trading indicated annualised passenger numbers of about 1.25 million.

“In 2021, despite predictions from some to the contrary, we did see the emergence of positive business travel trends, which we believe will continue in 2022,” Robert Sinclair, the airport’s chief executive, said.

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