London A City with Six International Airports

Airport Analysis 5

London:A City with Six International Airports




Londonis one of the model cities on earth. A city endowed with massive, andsuccessful, multinational investments London has an immense richfinancial capacity that sees several visitors, both local andinternational, traveling to marvel at its success and conduct variousbusiness transactions. The only city that has six major internationalairports within its territories, London is a model city when viewedfrom the perspective of air travel. For instance, over 17.4 millionoverseas air travelers visited the city of London, a feat notachieved by any other city worldwide today (Alexander, Kim, and Kim,2015). In this context, this paper seeks to analyze the variousissues surrounding the six major airports in the city of London.Effectively, this excerpt will examine the design and strategicposition of the London City Airport, while also focusing on the otherfive airports, which are Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, Stansted, andSouthend.


Twomain activities motivate a large number of international visitors toLondon. First, London offers some of the most exotic touristdestinations globally. The city is considered a must-visit touristspot and only few cities compete with it regarding visitors to itsmajor tourist attractions (Jones, 2015). Endowed with artifacts ofhistorical importance, London serves as a major sport for visitorsinterested in the globe’s history. It should be understood thatLondon hosts the throne of Her Majesty the Queen of the UnitedKingdom, an aspect that further fosters the reputation of the city asa major global destination. Additionally, the city has magnificenthospitality facilities that attract the wealthy and influentialpeople into its many hotels and restaurants. Therefore, tourismenhances the activities at the six airports of London.

Secondly,London is a leading financial hub the city is unarguably a majorplayer in international trade. Playing host to major internationalagencies concerned with the commercial operations of the globaleconomy, London sees many private and public proprietors visit itsterritories every year. Apparently, London is one of the mostimportant European cities given the fact that it is the financialcapital of one of the richest nations not just in Europe by in thewhole universe. Therefore, the business aspects and significance ofthe city makes it attract many visitors each day who help facilitatethe financial transactions and economic policy undertakings thatshape the economy of the modern world. Additionally, London is hostto some of the largest corporations, and in this respect, is anattractive destination for corporate leaders and players.

Fromall respects, the city of London plays an integral role in theactivities that shape the modern world. The city serves importantpolitical, economic, social and technological functions thatinfluence the way all other nations and towns operate. In thisrespect, London remains an undisputed leader in the popular worlddestinations thus, facilitating the necessity of the six airportsthat city maintains. In line with the instructions of the currentpaper, detailed herein are the facts concerning the six airports inLondon and the way they affect the daily operation of the city`sresidents. The present paper will describe the way the airportsoperate, the success that defines them, and the weaknesses that thecity has to address if its air transport is to maintain itssuccessful history in the end.

Fig.1: London Airport Connections

TheConsequences of the Physical Design and Capacity Limitations of theLondon City Airport

Twocompanies, Global Infrastructure Partners, and Highstar Capital, ownand operate the City of London Airport. Although plans to constructthe airport at its current location were floated in the 1980s, it isnot until 1987 that Queen Elizabeth 11 finally officially opened itfor international flights. Ever since the airport has been successfulin its endeavors, posting impressive results each year despite theintense competition that defines the airport operations business ofthe modern world. All through the years, the City of London Airporthas maintained its reputation as a leading employer in London.Additionally, the airport injects an average of 750 Million Poundsinto the United Kingdom economy each year, thus making it a majorplayer in the commercial setting of the country. In the internationalfront, the City of London airport has been feted on numerous accountsas a leading and model airport in the modern air travel niche. Forinstance, the airport has been awarded the tag of the bestinternational airport in the category of airports serving less than10 million people, in a ceremony that was held in Istanbul, Turkey.However, despite its success, the airport has been contending withsome of the most complex problems that an airport facility can face.Effectively, its challenges and weaknesses have had an impact on theway it conducts its business, and in recent years, there have beenmultiple calls to have it shut down.

ThePhysical design of the London City Airport is reportedly one of itsmain hindrances to development and maximized business performance.The airport has one runway, which is 1508 Meters long that issurrounded by water. The track is adjacent to the Royal Albert Dockand the King George V Dock, an aspect that significantly eliminatesany hope of its expansion in the future (London City Airport Ltd.,2016). With such a short runway and its inability to expand, theairport can only support a limited number of airplanes, an aspectthat also hinders the number of passengers that can use it at anygiven time. The single runway complicates the facets of aircrafttakeoff and landing. Since the planes have to share tracks, there hasto be keen monitoring of all air and ground activities to ensure thatplanes designated to land and take off at specific times observetheir schedules order to avoid instances of accidents that couldalter the success story of that defines the airport currently.

Givenits location and lack of enough space, the City of London airport issignificantly constrained in its operations. Clearly, the airportdoes not have sufficient space to expand its operations and add newfacilities. Given its single runway, there are serious concerns overthe security and safety of the passengers, the services and theresidents who reside in the precincts of the airport. The City ofLondon airport operates in an area surrounded by water, an aspectthat has led to calls from environmental campaigners to have itsoperations shut due to the risk of pollution into the waters.Besides, the airport, due to its inability to expand and bring in newfacilities, operates for just 12 hours a day, an aspect that lowersits competitiveness given the fact that other airports ofinternational repute work 24/7. Apparently, the airport has beenoperating in harsh conditions to an extent that it has becomedifficult to attain its growth and development objectives.

Followingextensive research and studies by various agencies, there have beencalls to close down the City of London airport. For instance, the NewEconomics Foundation (2014), following years of research on theeconomic and environmental issues posed by the City of Londonairport, recommended a closure of the airport. Apparently, this was adevastating conclusion that has ever since led to seriouscontroversies that have enhanced the business misunderstandings andconfusion at the airport (BBC News, 2011). Ever since the publicationof the New Economics Foundation report, there have been uncertaintiesin all the operations of the airport. Although there is Vision 2030,an ambitious program aimed at improving the current businessconditions at the airport, there are still a few issues that need tobe addressed to be sure that the calls to shut down the airport arenot enacted.

Fig.2: Demographic – Age Passenger Distribution at London City Airport

Fig.3: Demographic – Gender Passenger Distribution at London CityAirport

Analysisof the Other Five Airports

Thecurrent section will analyze the profiles of the other five airportsof London.

  1. Heathrow Airport

HeathrowInternational airport is perhaps the most renowned and busiest of allthe six airports that serve the city of London (Heathrow Airport,2016). Heathrow Airport Holdings own and operate the airport that islocated in the western suburbs of London. Heathrow airport isrenowned because of its international connections as it accommodatesplanes that fly from almost all the countries. Due to its ability toserve several passengers in an efficient manner, some surveys havefound out that Heathrow Airport is one of the most liked airportstoday (, 2016). In effect, the airport has wonsome prestigious awards on a yearly basis. For instance, in 2014,Heathrow Airport won the best airport for shopping across the WorldAirport Awards conducted by Skytrax. Additionally, the airport hadits Terminal 5 voted the best Airport Terminal at the same awardsceremony. Besides, the airport was also feted as the Best Airport inthe ACI Europe Awards of 2013.

Fig.4: Heathrow Airport’s Passenger Surface Access

Asnoted earlier on, Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest airports inthe world today. The airport has five terminals and two full-lengthrunways, which makes it one of the three airports with suchfacilities. The airport serves an average of up to 72 millionpassengers every year and in most cases, those passengers are fromlong-haul destinations. The airport is connected to the M4 and M5metro stations thereby making it easy for passengers to get insideand outside the airport without any hitches.

Nevertheless,the airport is threatened by a lack of enough runway capacity giventhe multiple airplanes that it serves. If not addressed urgently,there is a risk that the Heathrow Airport will soon lose itscompetitive advantage to other international airports in the UK orthe neighboring countries. Besides, the airport has also faced abacklash in recent years following the long queues at the immigrationdesks as it fosters efforts to ensure only permitted persons canarrive in the UK (BBC News, 2016).

Fig.5: Heathrow Airport’s Passenger/Traffic Profile

  1. Gatwick Airport

TheLondon Gatwick Airport is located in the West Sussex area of Crawleyin London. It is perhaps the busiest single-runway airport worldwide.Gatwick Airport Limited owns and operates the airport (GatwickAirport, 2016). Apparently, the airport has been one of the mostsuccessful in the UK not just concerning its financial and businessperformance but also its services to its customers. Effectively, theairport has been awarded on several occasions for its exemplaryservices and fulfillment in the market. For instance, the airport wasawarded the Airport of the Year award by the National TransportAwards of 2013. Additionally, the British Parking Awards awardedGatwick Airport the Exceptional Customer Service Award in the year2013. Again, the travel business grant also awarded the airport theBest UK Airport award in the year 2013. From this context, with theunderstanding of the rigorous awarding scheme employed in the processof granting the awards above, it is apparent of the high levels ofsuccess that define the Gatwick Airport.

Fig.6: Gatwick Airport’s Passenger Surface Access

However,some challenges and weaknesses are inhibiting the success of theGatwick Airport. For instance, the lack of enough runway capacity isthreatening its activities as in future, if nothing is done toaddress this challenges, international aircraft carriers may considermoving their flights to other airports in or outside the UK (Tobitt,2016). Additionally, with the focus shifting to low-cost airtransport services, the Gatwick airport needs to consider reducingits prices to accommodate more low-cost carriers in its facilities.The airport needs to balance its finances so that it can shielditself from the operational costs that have rocked other airportventures across the world going forward. Otherwise, Gatwick Airportis currently in a firm position, and it can use its current strengthsto position itself successfully for future success (Obeirne, 2016).The management ought to focus on practical management practices thatwill implement measures that can address the economic andenvironmental issues that have been cited as reasons for calls toclose down some airports in the UK and other countries across theworld.

Fig.7: Gatwick Airport’s Passenger/Traffic Profile

  1. Stansted Airport

TheStansted Airport is located in the Essex region of the city ofLondon. The Manchester Airports Group owns and manages the operationsof the Airport (Holland, 2013). It has a single terminal and a 10000ft. Runway and it can accommodate large airplanes, an aspect thatmakes it attractive to many airlines. The airport has receivedseveral awards during its course of operations in the airport servicebusiness. For instance, the airport was awarded the prize of World`sBest Airport for Low-Cost Airlines by Skytrax at the World AirportsAwards in the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The airport hosts bothpassenger and cargo planes thus increasing its capacity as anall-rounded airport in the city of London. Ryanair, Easyjet,Eurowings, Cobalt Air, British Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines areamong the notable passenger airlines operating at the StanstedAirport of London. On the other hand, Asiana Cargo, Qatar AirwaysCargo and Korean Air Cargo are among the famous cargo airlinesoperating at the airport.

Fig.8: Stansted Airport’s Passenger Surface Access

Theairport is served by the transit system connecting the terminal tothe adjacent areas of the airport. Additionally, trains that operatein the Stansted Airport Railway System that connects the terminal tothe main concourse serve the airport (Stansted Airport Guide, 2013).More railway systems connect the Stansted Airport to other suburbs inthe city and other metropolitans and towns in the UK. Buses, coaches,and taxis that help the movement of passengers and cargo into and outof the airport also serve the Stansted Airport.

Theairport hosts airlines operating in some of the busiest routes inEurope and the world. It supports daily flights to and from citieslike Dublin, Barcelona, Lisbon, Madrid, Glasgow and several others,thus serving an average number of passengers totaling to 22.5 millionannually.

Fig.9: Stansted Airport’s Passenger/Traffic Profile

Theairport faces competition from other airports across the UK that hasthe capability of expanding. Apparently, due to congestion, theairport lacks enough space to grow, and in the face of increaseddemand following expansion programs in some airlines, soon theStansted airport may lose its appeal due to a lack of space toaccommodate more planes (Starkie, 2004). The airport should alsoadopt a strategic growth program that will ensure that it avoids thecurrent economic shock that has hit some airports due to reducednumber of passengers following terrorism threats across many parts ofthe world.

  1. The Luton Airport

TheLondon Luton Airport is located in Borough of Luton in theBedfordshire suburb of London. The airport has a single terminal anda single runway (London Luton Airport, 2016). The owner of the LondonLuton Airport is the Luton Borough Council but the London LutonAirport Limited operates and manages all the activities at theairport.

Theairport is connected to the city of London by the M1 motorway. TheLuton has an efficient and reliable system of transport that includesbuses, trains, and coaches. The airport also connects to the M25motorway that heads to Leeds. The Luton Airport Parkway serves theLuton Airport, and the East Midland Trains serve its customers.

Fig.10: Luton Airport’s Passenger Surface Access

Ryanair,Easyjet, Monarch Airlines, Blue Air, and Thomas Cook Airlines areamong the passenger airlines that use the London Luton Airport(London Luton Airport, 2016). Additionally, Air France Cargo,Finnair, Atlantic Airlines and Turkish Airlines Cargo are among therenowned cargo airlines that use the Luton Airport. The airportserves airports that operate in the following cities and routes:Budapest, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Warsaw-Chopin and Dublin.

Fig.11: Luton Airport’s Passenger/Traffic Profile

Theairport is in a strong financial position given its current nature ofoperations. It is already undertaking expansion measures, which willsee it improve its performance in the coming years (Archell, 2013).It is expected that with the new runway that the airport isdeveloping, its capacity will significantly improve. However, itshould put in place measure to shield it from the market shocks thathave hit major airlines in the recent past.

  1. The Southend Airport

TheSouthend Airport of London is considered one of the mostcost-effective airports in the United Kingdom. It is located in thedistrict of Rochford, and it is the newest of London’s sixinternational airports. Stobart Group owns the airport, but theLondon Southend Airport Limited operates the activities andbusinesses of the airport. The airport has been building a newterminal, and it can now accommodate larger airplanes, making it apreferred airport in the city of London (Hackwell, 2012).

TheSouthend Airport serves the following airlines Easyjet, Flybe andVolotea (Nizinskyj, 2016). Its main destinations include Amsterdam,Alicante, Faro, Malaga, Barcelona among the other main European andglobal cities. The airport receives an average of over 100,000passengers from its ten busiest destinations.

Fig.12: Southend Airport’s Passenger Surface Access

TheSouthend airport is served by the Southend Airport Railway stationalong the Shenfield-Southend line (Trayner, 2013). It also connectsto the M25 and A127 motorways thus, it is well linked to the roadsystems of the city of London.

Strengthsand Weaknesses of Running 6 Airports in One City

Londonis among the few cities that have multiple international airports.The six international airports operating in London present a host ofstrengths and weaknesses that must harness properly to enhance theeconomic objectives that led to their establishments.

Oneof the major strengths of the six international airports is theimproved financial situation in the city. The airports are a majorprovider of jobs in the city, which means that most of the city`sresidents have readily available jobs to earn their living. Theairports have been influential in improving the conditions of life inLondon and generally, the economic situation of the UK. The otherstrength that has brought into the city is the enhanced exposure ofthe city, which has increased its international reputation andinfluence in the many aspects that define life in the modern age.

However,some weaknesses portray the six international airports in this city.For instance, in the face of increased threats from terrorist groups,the city of London has to invest heavily and commit resources toensure that it does not allow terrorists and other criminals intoLondon (Dimitriou and Voskaki, 2010). The other core weakness thatthe city of London has to deal with is the increased risk ofpollution that results from the increased air traffic in the Londonairspace.

StrategicRecommendation for Managing the International Airports of London

Thecity of London has to initiate strategic management practices thatwill enhance the success of the six international airports whilemitigating the challenges it causes. The city should adopt asustainable policy framework that will take into consideration allthe measures that will inhibit wastage and environmental degradation(Kozłowski, 2015). As such, it is important for the city to set up aregulatory agency that will set operational procedures for all thesix international airports to follow. The city should establish orcreate a minimum requirement that will guide the kind of airplanesflying into all the airports across the city. Effectively, this willhelp the city to overcome the challenges of pollution, and terrorismand enhance the success that people always seek in all businessventures in all of the city`s markets.


Operatingsix international airports in one city can be a daunting task. Apartfrom the strain on the available resources resulting from the highnumber of visitors into the city, the risks of crime and spread ofbiological threats, such a city risks pollution and environmentaldegradation. The city of London has been in a unique situation givenits state of being host to six international airports. So far, thecity of London has been able to solve the various issues surroundingits six airports, but the future seems uncertain (Dimitriou andVoskaki, 2010). Such a situation requires that the city is alwaysprepared to face an uncertain future given the state of the modernair transport. The city authorities ought to lay out plans that willfocus on three essential aspects increasing economic benefits fromthe airports, mitigating the costs of hosting such a high number ofinternational airports and implementing sustainable policy frameworksthat will enhance the reputation of the city as the world`sdestination of choice.


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