SSE says BAA living in a Walter Mitty world

10.2.2009   (SSE press release)



Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has accused BAA of living in a Walter Mitty world
of make believe as passenger numbers and flights at Stansted Airport fell for
the fifteenth consecutive month according to figures announced today (10 February).

Five years of growth have now been wiped out by a combination of the economic
downturn and BAA’s 2007 decision to double Stansted landing charges to its biggest
airline customers.

Stansted handled fewer flights last month than in any month in the past six years
and SSE estimates that this year Stansted will handle just 155,000 flights – down
20,000 on current levels.   This is only half the capacity of the existing runway,
demonstrating the illogicality and fantasy-based business strategy of BAA in pushing
ahead with its planning application for a second runway, due to be considered
at a Public Inquiry beginning on 15 April.

SSE has written to the Secretary of State Hazel Blears calling for the Public
Inquiry to be postponed, pointing out that with Stansted Airport in such rapid
decline there is no conceivable reason for haste.   In addition the Competition
Commission is expected to confirm within the next month that BAA must sell Stansted,
throwing the Public Inquiry process into confusion.

BAA’s plans for a second runway are opposed not only by SSE but also by the local
councils and even its own major customers at Stansted, Ryanair and easyJet who
together account for over 80 per cent of Stansted’s business.   Against such opposition
BAA’s prospects for winning approval at the Public Inquiry are bound to be slim
– as are the chances of any new owner of Stansted taking them forward even if
permission were granted.  

To compound BAA’s difficulties, if there were to be a change of Government at
the next general election, which must take place before June next year, both the
main opposition parties are committed to scrapping any plans for a second Stansted

SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone said:   "BAA is living in a Walter Mitty world,
being frivolous and irresponsible with other people’s money since a Public Inquiry
won’t come cheap for any of the parties.   The cost to council taxpayers in Herts
and Essex alone could be more than £2m."

Ms Barbone concluded:   "It’s time for BAA to wake up to reality and put an end
to the blight and uncertainty that has dogged this community for years."



Stansted traffic figures can be viewed on BAA’s website at     Stansted Traffic Figures



Brian Ross, Economics Adviser, SSE, 01279 814961, M 07850 937143, 

Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, SSE, M 0777 552 3091, 

Stop Stansted Expansion