Re-discovered promotional video makes London air travel in the 1990s look and sound amazing

  • A nostalgic 8-minute film by London City Airport from c.1993 was found on a VHS by Air Traffic Engineer Vic Abbott - buried in his attic
  • Retro scenes of Canary Wharf and the London skyline – minus the Shard, Gherkin and O2 arena - feature alongside shots of the Docklands Light Railway, London City Airport and Heathrow Airport
  • The film follows the story of fictional businesswoman Elizabeth James as she travels from Zurich to London City Airport and on to Dublin
Businesswoman Elizabeth James – complete with shoulder pads and day pearls - is the star of a re-discovered London City Airport promotional video from the early 1990s.
The film, which was discovered in the attic of NATS Air Traffic Engineer, Vic Abbott, who has worked at London City Airport since it opened in 1987, has today been uploaded on to the London City Airport YouTube channel. It compares the journeys of two business travellers making their way from Zurich for a meeting on Fleet Street in London.
Elizabeth is described as “someone who is in a hurry, but wants air travel to be the best” and “needs to be in the centre of London, ready to do business, without drama, without delay.”
The narrator continues: “someone in Zurich said to her, ‘try London City Airport – you won’t be sorry – especially as you need to be at Fleet Street by 9.15.’” Her journey from Zurich on Crossair, a predecessor of Swiss Airlines, is followed by a black taxi ride into central London, with the film pre-dating the Docklands Light Railway extension to London City Airport which came in 2005. 
Meanwhile Geoffrey Campbell, “an optimist”, arrives into Heathrow allowing himself just one hour to get to his important central London meeting.  The narrator quips, “some still haven’t learnt the best way to reach the City.”
Vic Abbott, NATS Air Traffic Engineer said: “I was given a copy of the film on VHS as I helped put together the mock flight information screens in the video. It has sat in my loft ever since and it was only recently that I was clearing it out and found this piece of nineties gold.”
The film also includes retro scenes of the Docklands Light Railway, London City Airport, Heathrow Airport and a “recently opened” Limehouse Link, with many of today’s recognisable London skyline buildings missing – including the yet-to-be-built Shard, Gherkin and O2 arena. The Canary Wharf skyline is markedly different, with solitary One Canada Square rising up with none of the Barclays, HSBC or Citi headquarters which exist today.
Next year London City Airport will celebrate its 30th anniversary year, having first opened its doors in 1987. In 2015 the airport welcomed a record 4.3 million passengers, serving nearly 50 domestic and international destinations.