London City Airport is considering an application to raise limits on flights and passenger numbers, its boss has revealed.
Chief executive Robert Sinclair believes the airport will approach existing caps on its operations in the next three to four years.
A campaign group pledged to “fight tooth and nail” any bid to ease the restrictions.
Mr Sinclair said London City could play an increasingly vital role in providing vital runway capacity in the south-east as Heathrow’s expansion is not due to be completed until 2026 at the earliest.
“In the fullness of the next year or two we will be reflecting on the future and life beyond our current planning caps,” Mr Sinclair said.
“We will be considering the potential options, which could include raising the caps.”
London City is for now limited to 6.5 million passengers and 111,000 flights a year.
Annual passenger numbers have grown by 50 per cent since 2012 and are expected to exceed five million next year. Annual air traffic movements stand at around 80,000.
Any bid to increase operational caps would be made to Newham Council.
Some people living nearby already protest against the noise and air pollution linked to the airport’s operations.
John Stewart, chairman of campaign group Hacan East, said: “Local residents would fight tooth and nail any attempt by London City to raise its limits on flights and passengers.
“Many of them feel their lives are already blighted by planes from the airport. The preservation of the current cap is the reddest of red lines for residents and, I suspect, for many local authorities.”
Heathrow has faced fierce opposition from anti-expansion campaigners for many years as it seeks permission to build a third runway.
The airport won a parliamentary vote on the plans last month.
A £480 million programme is already under way at London City to enhance its facilities.
This will include eight new aircraft stands, the UK’s first digital air traffic control tower, a full-length parallel taxiway and extending the terminal building.
British Airways has moved its Paris Orly flights from Heathrow to London City.
Mr Sinclair predicted airlines would increasingly transfer their short-haul operations away from the west London hub.