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London City airport is predicting a “strong” recovery in 2022 as momentum from the return of business travellers in autumn 2021 is expected to continue building.
The east London airport has been boosted by the announcement of a “busy” summer schedule from its largest airline British Airways and the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in recent weeks.
BA announced four new European routes from London City last week and the airport has already restored more than 75 per cent of its 2019 destinations for 2022. It is also benefiting from routes such as Barcelona being reintroduced for the first time in nearly 10 years.
London City’s CEO Robert Sinclair said the airport’s “conscious decision” to work with airlines since the start of the pandemic would help to create a “strong bounce back” this year.
There were signs of a significant return of corporate travellers in the second half of 2021, largely fuelled by domestic UK traffic, particularly to Edinburgh, which was the airport’s top performer.
Amsterdam was the strongest international route with KLM increasing flights to four per day in the autumn. Other key business routes include Swiss flights to Geneva and Lufthansa’s services to Frankfurt.
Business travellers accounted for 46 per cent of all London City’s passengers in October and November 2021 – matching the proportion in the pre-Covid year of 2019.
London City had a much higher ratio of business travellers than other London airports, according to figures from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), including Heathrow (21 per cent), Gatwick (11 per cent) and Stansted (10 per cent).
Although, the emergence of the Omicron variant and the imposition of new restrictions led to a 40 per cent slump in demand during December.
Overall, London City’s passenger numbers were only 714,000 in 2021 – down by 21 per cent on 2020 and by 86 per cent on 2019. This included handling just 75,185 passengers in the first six months of 2021, when global travel restrictions were in place and international travel was effectively banned from the UK until May.
Sinclair added: “2021 was certainly tough for everyone. However, despite predictions from some to the contrary, we did see the emergence of positive business travel trends, which we believe will continue in 2022 and will be so critical for the economic recovery of London and the UK more widely.
“While we are not out of the woods yet, the signs from governments in the UK and across Europe are that we are learning to live with Covid.
“I am optimistic that the restrictions that remain today, particularly for vaccinated passengers, will be eased and – in time – removed altogether so we can return to the simple and affordable ways of flying before the pandemic.”
source : businesstravelnewseurope
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