London City Airport to suspend operations as demand for air travel plummets

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London City Airport will suspend its operations until the end of April, amid a collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus.

The airport said it will close its runway to commercial and private flights from Wednesday night.

London City is the UK’s 12th busiest airport, handling 5.1 million passengers last year.

Its location close to the capital’s financial district makes it particularly popular with business travellers.

The airport is used for British Airways’ business-class only flights to and from New York.

A spokesman for London City said: “Following the Government’s latest instructions in response to the coronavirus outbreak, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend all commercial and private flights from the airport.

“This will begin in the evening on Wednesday 25 March and is expected to last until the end of April. We will keep this under review.

“At this point in this fast-moving and unprecedented situation, we think this is the responsible thing to do for the safety and wellbeing of our staff, passengers and everyone associated with the airport.”

Images posted on social media appeared to show a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft landing at London City on Tuesday.

The runway could be used by the military in the coming weeks as it is near the ExCeL centre, which is being converted into a makeshift field hospital to deal with coronavirus patients.

Airlines such as British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair have suspended the majority of their flights due to demand plummeting and countries around the world introducing travel restrictions in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

British Airways planes parked on the tarmac at Glasgow Airport (Andrew Milligan/PA)
British Airways planes parked up at Glasgow Airport (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Airports in Bournemouth, Cardiff, Glasgow and Norwich are among those being used by airlines to park their aircraft amid the drop in demand.

British Airways planes parked at Glasgow Airport have been fitted with engine covers to prevent damage.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has decided against creating a specific support package for the UK’s aviation industry.

In a letter to airports and airlines, he said the Government was prepared to enter into negotiations with individual companies once they had “exhausted other options” such as raising cash from existing investors.

Karen Dee, chief executive of trade body the Airport Operators Association, said the aviation industry was “surprised” by Mr Sunak’s decision and would have to “fight on its own to protect its workforce and its future”.

Ryanair, which has grounded more than 90% of its aircraft, has announced the significantly reduced schedule it will operate for the next week.

It mainly involves flights between Dublin and airports in Britain.

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