Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

London City Airport has banned access to business aircraft during peak operating hours. The airport joins a growing number of UK airports which are squeezing business-aviation traffic in favour of the more lucrative scheduled airlines.

An increase in the airport's popularity has led to slot restrictions from around 06.30 to 08.30. "We cannot accommodate business aircraft between these times - there are no slots available," says London City Airport.

Until recently, the airport has been actively encouraging business-aircraft use. Shell is the latest corporate user to study operating part of its fleet from there.

The airport has applied for planning permission to double the airport's annual movements, from 36,000 to 73,000. A decision is expected on 16 December,

The growing number of business-aircraft operators using the airport fear that the ban, which is a relatively small inconvenience now, will gradually worsen. "Business aircraft will always play second fiddle to scheduled carriers," says Elliot Keynes, executive-aviation sales manager for UK charter broker Hunt and Palmer.

"London City has turned a corner, it is no longer a 'turn-up-and-go' airport. More restrictions will be piled on us, and the time bands will get wider-it sends out a negative signal to potential business-aircraft users," he adds.

London City concedes that scheduled carriers will always be the favoured option. "A 100-seat jet occupies the same amount of space as a nine-seat business jet, but the revenues are far greater," it says.

Lelystad Airport, near Amsterdam, is to start building its new business-aviation terminal in January. This forms part of a Fl25 million ($12.6 million) building project to turn the airport into a business-aviation hub.

Other projects being undertaken by the Amsterdam Schiphol subsidiary include the installation of an instrument-landing system and a runway extension, from 1,250m (4,100ft) to 1,800m, which is designed to triple business-aircraft movements, from 15,000 to 45,000 a year.

Source: Flight International