UK clears expansion of London City Airport

The UK government approved the expansion of London City Airport — a project held up by former mayor Boris Johnson — as new chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond looks to underline the city’s role in the global economy in the aftermath of Britain’s vote to exit the EU.

The £344m (€398m) plan for the inner-city airport in London’s former docklands had been delayed by Mr Johnson’s objection to the purchase of land needed for the expansion.

Sadiq Khan, who took over as mayor after an election in May, gave approval to the project in his second week in office.

“Making it easier to visit and do business in the City of London will help drive forward our economy and further strengthen the city’s status as the world’s leading financial center,” Mr Hammond said in a statement.

The UK government announced its decision even though parliament has already broken until September for its summer recess.

New prime minister Theresa May’s administration is due to decide after the recess whether to build an additional runway at either of London’s two main airports — Heathrow or Gatwick.

Though City Airport has increased its passenger tally by 50% in the past five years and is the closest terminal to the London’s financial centre, it’s a fraction of the size of Britain’s leading hubs and is limited in its growth prospects by its existing runway that can’t take full-size jets.

As part of yesterday’s announcement, London City will spend £2.6m on new rolling stock for the Docklands Light Railway, which connects the business district to the airport in under 25 minutes, and improve access by bus and taxi.

The airport was sold by its former US owners in February to a Canadian consortium of Alberta Investment Management, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. A bidding war led to a price tag of about £2bn, people familiar said at the time.


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