Declan Collier faces flak from the left at London City Airport

Think-tank claims says airport destroys more value than it creates

 Declan Collier during his time as chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

Declan Collier during his time as chief executive of the Dublin Airport Authority. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times

 

During his time at the helm of Dublin Airport Authority, Declan Collier was well able to handle the broadsides directed at the State-owned organisation by Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary.

These days, in his role as chief executive of London City Airport, he is taking flak from a different place on the ideological spectrum – literally out of left field. The New Economic Foundation calls itself the “UK’s leading think tank promoting social, economic and environmental justice”.

As you can guess from its billing, the foundation is not excoriating London City Airport for overcharging its customers, overspending on infrastructure and creating barriers to growth. In fact, it appears to wish London City Airport wasn’t there at all. In a report, Royal Docks Revival , it says that such developments “destroy more social, environmental and economic value than they create”.

The airport occupies land that could be redeveloped as a “sustainable and socially just neighbourhood, complementing current regeneration plans for east London and inspiring transformation across the capital and beyond”, it argues.

The foundation also suggests the 2.3 million passengers passing through London City last year could easily be spread across other airports dotted around the British capital.

Needless to say, London City Airport didn’t let this threat to its very existence pass. It noted that closure would result in the immediate loss of 2,000 jobs, a quarter of them held by people from its local borough of Newham. It would also rule out the creation of a further 1,500 positions that the airport plans over the coming decade.

Oh, and the airport also warned that closure would cost the UK economy £750 million a year. Sounds like the ambitious Collier is putting it up to airport critics to redo their sums.

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