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Airports of London

London's six international airports

The metropolitan area of London, England, United Kingdom is served by six international airports and several smaller airports. Together, they make the busiest airport system in the world by passenger numbers and the second-busiest by aircraft movements.[1] In 2018, the six airports handled a total of 177,054,819 passengers. The London airports handle over 60% of all the UK's air traffic. The airports serve a total of 14 domestic destinations and 396 international destinations.

International airportsEdit

International airports in the London airport system[2]
Airport IATA ICAO Distance to London[3][4] Total of passengers


Total of aircraft movements 2018 Total of 2015 passengers[5][6] Change from 2011[5][6] % of 2015
% of 2011
Cargo (tonnes) Change from 2010 Aircraft
Change from 2011
City LCY EGLC 14 km (9 mi) 4,820,292 78,036 4,319,301   0.8%  2.78%  2.23%
70,781   2.9%
Heathrow LHR EGLL 26 km (16 mi) 80,102,017 480,339 74,985,748   0.9% 48.30% 51.88% 1,484,351   1% 475,176   1.2%
Gatwick LGW EGKK 45 km (28 mi) 46,075,400 283,926 40,269,087   1.7% 25.94% 25.36% 88,085   15% 256,987   1.6%
Luton LTN EGGW 55 km (34 mi) 16,581,850 136,270 12,263,505   1.1%  7.90%  7.12% 27,905   3% 96,797   0.8%
Stansted STN EGSS 63 km (39 mi) 27,995,121 185,660 22,519,178   3.2% 14.50% 12.94% 202,593   0% 143,511   3.2%
Southend SEN EGMC 64 km (40 mi) 1,480,139 17,088 900,648   1,353.9%  0.58%  0.45% 6   100% 27,715   8.8%
Total N/A N/A N/A 177,054,819 1,181,319 155,257,467   1.02% 100.00% 100.00% 1,802,939 N/A 1,070,967   0.11%

City (LCY)Edit

Located in the London Borough of Newham, City Airportmap5 is situated in London's Docklands, and is the closest to central London, which limits its size—the airport has a single runway, which is very short. As a result, no large aircraft are permitted to use the airport, which initially prevented all long-haul flights. However, since 2009, British Airways has operated a flight to New York JFK, via Shannon, using an Airbus A318. The largest aircraft currently handled at the airport is the Airbus A220-100, with the first commercial flight completed in August 2017 from Zurich.[8]

Located only four miles from Canary Wharf, London City Airport is often used by business travellers, with many flights serving destinations across the UK and northern Europe. The airport cannot be expanded due to the docks on either side. It is also the only airport serving London which does not operate at night.

A light rail service from London City Airport DLR station, which adjoins the terminal building of London City Airport, links it to the financial district of the City of London at Bank and Monument stations, which offer interchanges with London Underground.

Heathrow (LHR)Edit

Located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, Heathrowmap1 is by far the largest of London's airports and considered the main gateway into the United Kingdom for non-European visitors. Heathrow has five terminals and two parallel runways. Due to the location in London's western suburbs, Heathrow has had trouble trying to expand, with various expansion projects being cancelled.[9] As a result, the airport consistently runs at over 99% capacity and is often included on lists of the worst-rated airports in the world.[10] However, on 1 July 2015 Heathrow's expansion plan was suggested as the best option by the Airport Commission and on 25 October 2016 a new northwest runway and terminal was approved by the Government.

The airport is connected to Great Britain's motorway network via the M4 and M25 motorways, to London Paddington station by Heathrow Express[11] and TfL Rail[12] trains and to other Central London destinations by London Underground trains on the Piccadilly line.

In April 2012, Heathrow announced that for the first time in history it handled 70 million passengers in a calendar year,[13] making it the third busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger numbers, after Atlanta and Beijing. It also comes second behind Dubai International Airport in the list of the busiest airport in the world in terms of international passenger numbers, as well as being the busiest airport in Europe by total passenger numbers.

Heathrow serves six continents around the world, and is the base for the flag carrier British Airways in Terminal 5. While it also serves short-haul flights, Heathrow is London's long-distance hub and is the most popular arrival point for flights from the United States of America, with 13 million passengers. However, because it is operating at capacity, Heathrow has failed to increase service to cities in the newly industrialised countries such as China, falling behind European bases like Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Paris.

Gatwick (LGW)Edit

Located in West Sussex, Gatwickmap2 is the second-busiest airport in the United Kingdom, the eighth-busiest in Europe, and the second-busiest single-runway airport in the world. It handles flights to more destinations than any other UK airport[14] and is the main base of easyJet,[15] the UK's largest airline by number of passengers.[16] Also using it as a base are British Airways, Norwegian Air Shuttle and TUI Airways.

The airport consists of two terminals, North and South, is connected to the motorway network via the M23 and has its own railway station, with Southern and Thameslink trains serving London Victoria and London Bridge stations respectively as well as there being a dedicated Gatwick Express shuttle to and from London Victoria.

Luton (LTN)Edit

Located on the Bedfordshire / Hertfordshire border, Luton Airportmap4 is London's fourth-largest airport, the fifth-busiest in the United Kingdom and the third-closest to the capital, after Heathrow and City airports. The two airlines supplying most passenger capacity are the low-cost carriers easyJet and Wizz Air.

Luton Airport Parkway railway station can be reached from London St Pancras in as little as 22 minutes via East Midlands Railway, while Thameslink is the primary operator, with slower but more frequent services. A shuttle bus service connects Luton Airport Parkway to the airport, a distance of just over a mile.

Stansted (STN)Edit

Located in Essex, Stanstedmap3 is London's third-busiest airport, being the fourth-busiest in the United Kingdom, behind Manchester Airport, 22nd-busiest in Europe and the largest operational base for Ryanair, which is Europe's largest low-cost carrier and the world's largest international airline by number of international passengers.[17] Stansted serves more scheduled European destinations than any other airport in the UK,[18] as well as some destinations further afield. It is the home of Harrods Aviation, allowing VIP aircraft to land there, such as Air Force One carrying the President of the United States, Barack Obama, in 2009 and also 2016.[19]

Stansted Airport railway station is situated in the terminal building directly below the main concourse.[20] Services to Central London are on the Stansted Express train to and from London Liverpool Street.

Southend (SEN)Edit

Located in Essex, Southend Airportmap6 expanded commercial air transport operations to destinations in Ireland in 2011, and to mainland Europe in 2012 when easyJet commenced operations using the brand new terminal and railway station. Southend claims it only takes 15 minutes to go through arrivals from plane to train with hand luggage. It was the third-busiest airport in the United Kingdom from the 1960s until the end of the 1970s, when it was overtaken in passenger numbers by London Stansted Airport.[21][22]

Southend Airport railway station is served by Abellio Greater Anglia trains, which connect the airport to London Liverpool Street station up to 8 times per hour. The journey to London takes about one hour.[23]

Other civil airportsEdit

Locations of OXF, LHR, LTN, LGW, LCY, STN, SEN and LYX.

A number of other airports also serve the London area.

Open airportsEdit

The following are mainly used by general aviation flights.

Closed airportsEdit

Airports are listed at their current borough, although the area may have been outside London at the time of construction.

Royal Air Force stationsEdit

There were several Royal Air Force stations in London. This list excludes those that are classed as non-flying stations.



Station are listed at their current borough, although the area may have been outside London at the time of construction.

Proposed airportsEdit

Thames EstuaryEdit

Due to London's high capacity, in particular London Heathrow, Boris Johnson, London's former mayor, and Sir Norman Foster have both brought up plans to have a new airport built, either on a man-made island in the Thames Estuary, or on the Isle of Grain in North Kent. Foster's proposed Thames Hub Airport would be very similar to the design of Hong Kong International Airport and Qatar's Hamad International Airport. The plans to have an airport able to handle 110 million passengers a year would require the closure of Heathrow, and probably make the new airport the busiest in the world.

The plans have met with opposition from some people living nearby warning the airport would create a significant increase in bird strikes.[24] Other people and local businesses, recognising the depressed levels of economic activity in North Kent, have been supportive and argue that London needs a new airport in order to be able to compete in the world.

Traffic and statisticsEdit

Passengers numbersEdit

Airports of London passenger totals, 2004–2014 (millions)
Updated: 28 April 2015.[25]
Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, City, Southend

Cargo numbersEdit


Year Aircraft
2001 1,074,773[26]   1 113,790,381   2 1,649,437
2002 954,570[27]   11.2 117,138,188   2.9 1,682,693   2.0
2003 967,270[28]   1.3 120,493,239   2.9 1,667,803   0.9
2004 1,005,256[29]   3.8 128,933,753   7.0 1,795,326   7.6
2005 1,038,241[30]   3.2 133,836,827   3.8 1,788,671   0.4
2006 1,060,831[31]   5.4 137,192,958   2.5 1,717,360   4.0
2007 1,087,703[32]   2.5 139,950,593   2.0 1,724,040   0.4
2008 1,077,448[33]   0.9 137,106,041   2.0 1,743,028   1.1
2009 1,003,616[34]   6.9 130,307,938   5.0 1,563,783   10.3
2010 954,371[35]   4.9 127,353,419   2.3 1,808,005   15.6
2011 1,072,126[7]   12.4 133,709,327   5.0 1,802,939[36]   0.3
2012 1,060,967[7]   1.0 134,914,412   0.9 1,805,761[37]   0.2
2013 1,067,992[7]   0.7 139,652,261   3.5 1,760,690[37]   2.5
2014 1,098,605[7]   2.9 146,631,158   5.0 1,819,587[37]   3.3

Busiest routesEdit

In total, there were 30 international destinations from London, and another 3 domestic routes, that handled more than 1 million passengers in 2011:

Destination Number of passengers
  Ireland, Dublin 3,705,696
  Netherlands, Amsterdam 3,026,082
  US, New York JFK 2,700,613
  UAE, Dubai 2,506,613
  Spain, Madrid 2,496,921
  Turkey, İstanbul 2,376,284
   Switzerland, Geneva 2,218,593
  Spain, Malaga 1,814,682
  Germany, Frankfurt 1,678,536
  Spain, Barcelona 1,661,301
  Denmark, Copenhagen 1,656,818
   Switzerland, Zurich 1,642,959
  Germany, Munich 1,546,441
  Italy, Rome Fiumicino 1,530,810
  France, Paris-Charles de Gaulle 1,526,030
  Hong Kong, Chek Lap Kok 1,412,749
  Spain, Alicante 1,302,237
  US, Los Angeles 1,299,118
  US, Chicago 1,207,424
  US, New York Newark 1,197,847
  Spain, Palma de Mallorca 1,189,761
  Canada, Toronto 1,186,783
  Portugal, Faro 1,186,358
  Sweden, Stockholm Arlanda 1,185,848
  Hungary, Budapest 1,145,011
  France, Nice 1,134,396
  Singapore, Changi 1,069,706
  Portugal, Lisbon 1,069,055
  US, Boston 1,031,320
  India, Delhi 1,003,598

Heathrow Airport is a major hub for flights across the North Atlantic. In 2011, 11% of all north Atlantic flights originated or terminated at Heathrow, more than Paris and Frankfurt combined, and Heathrow is the European terminus for 11 of the 25 busiest north Atlantic routes.

The busiest long-haul route in the world is between London (Heathrow and Gatwick) and New York (JFK and Newark), with a total of 3,898,460 passengers travelling between the two cities in 2011.[citation needed]


Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Beijing to overtake London as world's largest aviation hub. Massive new airport planned
  2. ^ "Size of Reporting Airports 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  3. ^ "How to get into the city from London's airports",
  4. ^ Accessed: 2018-06-02. (Archived by WebCite® at
  5. ^ a b "Domestic Terminal Passenger Traffic 2012(a)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  6. ^ a b "EU and Other International Terminal Passenger Traffic 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 May 2014. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e Aircraft Movements 2012[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Swiss completes first CSeries revenue flight to London City". 8 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Heathrow third runway plans scrapped by new government". BBC News. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  10. ^ Alan Travis, home affairs editor (3 May 2012). "Official waiting time figures reveal scale of Heathrow chaos | World news |". Guardian. London.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  11. ^
  12. ^ 2018-06-26. URL: Accessed: 2018-06-26. (Archived by WebCite® at
  13. ^ Lucy Tobin (12 April 2012). "Record 70 million use Heathrow airport - Business News - Business". The Independent. London.
  14. ^ "Gatwick by Numbers - Gatwick Airport". Archived from the original on 16 June 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  15. ^ "Where We Are - easyJet CareerseasyJet Careers".
  16. ^ "Airline data annual reports 2017 - UK Civil Aviation Authority".
  17. ^ "Domestic bliss". The Economist.
  18. ^ Based on IATA schedules for August 2016
  19. ^ "G20". Retrieved 31 October 2012.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ - To & From the Airport retrieved 25 April 2017
  21. ^ EasyJet Helps Make Southend London's Sixth Major Airport, published 16 June 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011
  22. ^ EasyJet to offer flights from Southend Financial Times, published 16 June 2011. Retrieved 17 June 2011
  23. ^ "London Southend Airport - Trains – General Information". Archived from the original on 7 January 2016.
  24. ^ Juliette Jowit (26 January 2012). "Risk of bird strikes would make Thames Estuary UK's 'most dangerous airport' | Environment |". Guardian. London.
  25. ^ "UK Airport Statistics" (PDF). 26 March 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  26. ^ Aircraft Movements 2001 Archived 3 February 2004 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Air Transport Movements(a) 2002 Archived 14 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Air Transport Movements(a) 2003 Archived 14 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Air Transport Movements(a) 2004 Archived 22 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Air Transport Movements 2005" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 September 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  31. ^ "Air Transport Movements 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  32. ^ "Air Transport Movements 2007" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  33. ^ "Air Transport Movements 2008" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  34. ^ "Air Transport Movements 2009" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  35. ^ Air Transport Movements 2010 Archived 8 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ Air Transport Movements 2011 Archived 27 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ a b c "Air Transport Movements 2004-2014" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.