Is business doing enough to help local people share in its success?

London City Airport (LCY) is central to the growth and economic renaissance of East London. Each year we generate £750 million for the UK economy, a number that will increase as passenger numbers and connections increase to new destinations across the UK, Europe and, in the future, further afield. In 2013 we welcomed 3.5 million passengers to the airport, a record which we expect to break this year and again in 2015.

Much of this is down to London’s status as a leading global business centre and its burgeoning reputation as a centre of technological excellence –– through the development of ever more complex apps.

It’s also down to the fact that London is moving east. The airport has played a key role in attracting new businesses to the area; from thousands of start ups in Old Street, to the businesses flocking to Stratford, including TfL and iCity. All benefit from being close to an airport that offers speed and efficiency.

The real change is happening on our doorstep in London’s Royal Docks — one of the most exciting regeneration areas in Europe. Immediately to the north of the airport, the Asian Business Port (ABP) will link the area directly to Asia and create 20,000 jobs. To the west of the airport, the Silvertown Partnership will build high-end residential accommodation as well as a brand and innovation centre which will bring global brands to the East of London. In the Royal Docks alone, these initiatives, and growth at London City and ExCel, will create 50,000 new jobs. It also places even more responsibility on London City Airport to prepare local people for jobs in the airport and aviation, and also for jobs at partner businesses in the local area.

“We believe that a good business is stronger when it is a locally resourced business”

Significant strides have been made in terms of levels of employment and educational attainment, however the transition from college to the workplace, or from unemployment to the workforce, is still challenging.

We have operated and grown in East London since 1987 so we are acutely aware of these challenges. We believe that a good business is stronger when it is a locally resourced business — something particularly important in the aviation industry.

The airport has always recognised that it needs to invest in relationships with schools, not only to provide ways into work, but also to provide support along the way. And for a medium-sized business of 2,000 employees, I believe we punch well above our weight in terms of local engagement and have played a key role in improving local peoples’ lives.

For example, our work with over 1,000 local school children in East London per year ranges from tours of the airport and CV preparation and writing workshops, to a key stage 2 local history module called “Your Royal Docks” which, for local kids, brings the story of our amazing location to life.

In terms of employment, our award winning Take Off Into Work programme, which is run in partnership with the East London Business Alliance and Newham Workplace, has placed nearly 500 Newham residents into jobs at the airport since 2009. The secret of its success is its emphasis on placing the right people into the right opportunities. For example Kashim Uddin, a local Newham resident joined the airport in 2013 having been made redundant in 2012. Through Take Off Into Work, Kashim secured an opportunity in WH Smith and then, just a few months later, he joined the airport’s HR team on a contract basis. He impressed so much that he is now a full time member of staff.

“Today 30% of our workforce comes from Newham and 70% comes from within 5 miles of the airport. We are an airport for London, staffed by East Londoners”.

We are always looking for new and innovative projects and this year, again in partnership with Newham Workplace, we launched our inaugural Ramp Academy programme. Jobs on the ramp (the airside area where planes are parked and prepared) at LCY include baggage handling, passenger safety and ensuring aircraft are ‘turned around’ – prepared for departure – in 30 minutes. The programme trains and places local people into jobs on the ramp at LCY. Once in post they then learn a host of skills which will prepare them for a future career in LCY or in the wider aviation industry.

LCY’s engagement with schools and with tailored local employment initiatives has undoubtedly made a difference. Today 30% of our workforce comes from Newham and 70% comes from within 5 miles of the airport. We are an airport for London, staffed by East Londoners.

London City Airport is committed to continuing to make local people part of its success story and we are intent on creating even more opportunities as we grow.


Declan Collier joined London City Airport as Chief Executive Officer in March 2012. Prior to his appointment, he had been Chief Executive of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) and Chairman of Aer Rianta International (ARI) since April 2005. 

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