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London City airport seeks end to Saturday flight ban

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London City airport is seeking to overturn its Saturday flight ban and raise by 40% the limit on its passenger numbers.

A local residents’ group has denounced the proposals to cut into the nearly 24-hour respite from aircraft noise from 1pm on Saturdays to 12.30pm on Sundays, granted when the airport was licensed.

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London City also wants to be allowed to operate more flights in the early morning and late evening, although it said only quieter new aircraft would be permitted in those slots.

The airport hopes to increase its annual number of passengers from 3 million to 9million by 2031, but has a current cap of 6.5 million. It said it would achieve the numbers with no additional flights or runways while retaining an eight-hour overnight curfew.

It said the plans would create 2,100 additional jobs and contribute another £750m a year to London’s economy.

However, the residents’ organisation Hacan East said the plans for Saturday flying would anger communities.

Its chair, John Stewart, said: “Ever since London City opened, residents have had a break from the noise between midday Saturday and midday Sunday. There will be anger that the only break now will be for a few hours on Sunday morning.”

Stewart questioned the worth of assurances that only newer planes would fly at certain times. He said the planes that City would invite were much larger, and “only noticeably quieter when taking off over communities close to the airport”.

London City has launched a 10-week consultation on the expansion plans, which will need to be agreed by its London borough, Newham.

The airport closed entirely to commercial flights for three months during the pandemic in 2020.

London City’s chief executive, Robert Sinclair, said: “The strength of our rebound demonstrates the huge pent-up demand for air travel and the need to plan responsibly for the future.

“Following our commitment to be the first net zero airport in London by 2030, these proposals set out how London City and its airlines can meet future demand in a sustainable way.

“In particular, it will accelerate investment in cleaner, quieter, new generation aircraft, for use in the extended periods, delivering the benefit of quieter aircraft to our local community throughout the whole week.”

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