London City – Visit Highlights and the future…

the tail of an airplane

Lufthansa just after sunrise

If you have read the four parts of my London City series you will have received a taste of a very interesting morning that I spent at the airport.

The common theme for me was that the airport felt like a family. My guide used to work on the ramp, there were staff who had moved departments but who wanted to stay at the airport to work. They clearly took a pride in the job that they did, enjoyed the work – for its variety as much as for the mundane. The workforce all seemed to know each other and hands were waived when people walked past others working, and there were a lot of people clearly enjoying their work.

There is a new management team in several areas of the airport I was told. They seem to be looking at the whole operation – to make it better for both sets of customers – airlines and passengers. More shops, extra security when required can be turned on, and they have taken control of most of the Car Parking directly. I asked about whether they would consider a frequent flyer/shopper scheme – and there was a cryptic – ‘possibly’ – which I hope will generate something more interesting than BAA’s Worldpoints scheme.

Talking to the Marketing and Press Teams who hosted me, it seems that LCY is committed to a digital and online strategy. It was clear that teams who knew about delays immediately thought to tell the web team so that passengers could be kept informed. It was that sort of commitment that I wonder if you would find at a larger, more faceless airport. Tweets are replied by a real human.

LCY have created a large Flickr catalogue of images for those interested in seeing more at the airport.

The free WiFi at LCY is a winner in my book. They have fixed the old problems with speed, by increasing capacity by ten fold when I asked. When I used it, there a good service in all parts of the airport despite the terminal being busy with passengers.

The airport handled 52,000 passengers per week in 2010 but a recent court ruling will enable them to increase their numbers, and I expect that the recent new destinations of Palma and Mallorca won’t be the last holiday destinations leaving LCY. I think, understanding their market, the airport hopes to capitalise on their business travellers wanting a weekend (or week) away with their mates, family or girlfriends. I understand that Tallin is coming – a favourite with stag and hen parties I am told. The airport has some very interesting stats on their passengers – only 64% are for business, over 50% stay at their destination for less than 3 days and 65% is male, almost the exact percentage that state their travel is for Business.

The management team at LCY are running Gatwick and soon Edinburgh I am told. I hope they can bring the same family feel from City to their new ventures.

a couple of men wearing reflective vestsMore information about London City can be found here.

I am off today to use what has become my favourite airport – report to follow soon on my latest trip to New York!