New London Mayor Removes Obstacle to City Airport Expansion

“Newly elected Mayor Sadiq Khan has dropped the Greater London Authority’s objection to London City Airport’s plan to purchase land it will need if its expansion plans are approved by the U.K. government later this year.

The Labour mayor, who was elected last week, is withdrawing a key obstacle used by his Tory predecessor, Boris Johnson, to oppose an expansion of the airport. The decision comes after the completion of a three-week planning inquiry that is due to report to the government as early as June.

“The mayor has decided to withdraw the objection to this proposed compulsory purchase of land owned by City Hall following new evidence recently submitted by London City Airport and ongoing negotiations,” Khan’s office said in an e-mailed statement.

Still, Tuesday’s decision by the mayor doesn’t affect separate objections to the expansion that were submitted under Johnson to the planning inquiry. The inquiry’s findings will be presented to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Communities & Local Government Secretary Greg Clark, with no fixed timeline in place for a decision.

“The mayor continues to support the case for improved noise mitigation measures that will be considered by the secretary of state when he decides on the planning appeal in due course,” Khan’s office said.

Runway Limitations

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

The airport was sold in February to a Canadian consortium of Alberta Investment Management Corp., Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System in a deal worth about 2 billion pounds ($3 billion).

 The land eyed by the airport, which straddles London’s Royal Docks next to the River Thames, would be used to build seven new parking stands to accommodate extra aircraft, spokeswoman Charlotte Beeching said by phone. London City first announced its intention to submit a compulsory purchase order for the property on Oct. 21. An inquiry into the CPO started Tuesday.”