Labour mayoral candidate – and former transport minister – Sadiq Khan has said that he would consider allowing the expansion of London City Airport if he took over at City Hall.
The £200million expansion was approved by Labour-run Newham Borough Council earlier this year but Mayor Boris Johnson stepped in to veto the work. He said the increased number of flights would create a noise nuisance.
The City Airport Development Programme would lift the ceiling on the number of flights from 70,000 to 111,000 a year, doubling the number of passengers by 2023 a year, as well as make major adaptations to the airport to extend the terminal and build a parallel taxi lane.
The changes, the airport says, are necessary to accommodate a new generation of aircraft which is more fuel efficient and will add £750million a year to the economy. The airport, which predominantly serves Canary Wharf and the City, is currently accepting bids to buy the business from its US owners which could generate £2billion.
Mr Khan, who has previously come out against Heathrow expansion, worried about air quality, said that the Docklands hub was a special case because of its size and economic impact.
He said: “When you look at what London City Airport is doing for the local community, the jobs they’re creating, but also the jobs they’re creating around London I think what you can’t do is play politics with decisions about people’s jobs and business.
“What I would do if I was mayor of London is reconsider the decision by the mayor of London to oppose the plans.”
“City Airport is very small in comparison to major airports like Heathrow and Gatwick and would remain so even after this expansion.
“We need to make sure that key environmental and noise tests are met, but the proposals would provide the City with a capacity boost and I’m willing to look again at this.”
His view is in contrast to that of his main rival for City Hall. Conservative candidate and environmental campaigner Zac Goldsmith said he was “very strongly inclined” to follow the Johnson line.
London City Airport is appealing against the overrule and Mayor Boris Johnson has set aside £525,000 to defend his decision. The appeal will be heard in March.