Belfast and Bombardier to benefit from £500m London airport expansion

London City Airport is undergoing a £500m expansion, which could see increased air links with Belfast and construction contracts for local firms
London City Airport is undergoing a £500m expansion, which could see increased air links with Belfast and construction contracts for local firms

A SENIOR director at London City Airport has said that Belfast and Bombardier are at the heart of a £500 million expansion programme.

Speaking to The Irish News in Westminster this week, Liam McKay, director of corporate affairs at London City believes both have a key role to play in growth at the airport, with the prospect of better air links between the cities and new contracts for the Canadian manufacturer.

As part of the major expansion at the London airport, which will see the terminal quadruple in size and the creation of a new full-length parallel taxiway, Mr McKay hopes that the frequency of the north's only air link with London City - FlyBe's service from Belfast City Airport, will increase to seven return flights a day.

"It is without question FlyBe's most successful route from London City Airport," he said.

"It has moved from five rotations a day to six. Last year there was about 120,000 people on that route and we've reached that number already.

"What we would like to see in the future is more routes so FlyBe using more of its infrastructure to put in more rotations between London City and Belfast City because we think, it is the best way to travel between Belfast and London."

As part of the development at the airport, which is set to see passenger numbers rise from an estimated 4.8 million this year to 5.5 million in 2019, Mr McKay also revealed there will be opportunities for local construction firms to work with delivery partner Bechtel on the project, with contracts soon going out to tender, particularly in relation to the terminal building.

"If there are Northern Irish businesses who believe they can work with us on the project and be part of creating a new airport in east London then that would be tremendously exciting, because we want the best people for this project," he said.

In relation to Bombardier, the airport chief believes development at London City is good news for one of the north's leading employers, especially in relation to the flagship C-Series aircraft, the wings of which are made in Belfast.

"The C-Series aircraft for us is an aircraft that makes sense for our community," he said.

"As we look to the future and build out our development, we want more C-Series or A220s flying from the airport, both the 100s and hopefully, if certified the 300s.

"We see our growth as being helpful and beneficial to actually not only sustaining an important industry in Belfast, but growing it as well. The performance of that aircraft is something that we are promoting to all of our existing and future airline customers," Mr McKay added.