MAG CEO, Charlie Cornish, says Stansted might press for a 2nd runway by the mid-2020s

Stansted aims to submit plans for a new runway some time in the next decade, according to Charlie Cornish, the CEO of parent company Manchester Airports Group.  He says the present expansion rates meant that Stansted would apply to the government for the repeal of existing local council limits and then lobby for a 2nd runway to satisfy demand. Stansted hope its projected rate of growth between now and the mid -2020s will see it pass through its local authority-capped capacity of 35 million passengers per year, and hit its physical capacity on one runway of 45 million by 2030.  In October 2008, the Government gave approval for Stansted to increase its permitted passenger numbers from 25 to 35 million per year, and a rise in the permitted number of annual flights from 241,000 to 264,000. Mr Cornish wants better rail connections to London and to the other airports. Having fallen for years, ever since the peak at  over 23.7 million in 2007, Stansted’s number of passengers is still well down, at 17.8 million in 2013, though the number has risen significantly during 2014.


Annual number of passengers at Stansted Airport (CAA figures)





Stansted sets out vision for second runway

Stansted aims to submit plans for a new runway some time in the next decade, according to the boss of parent company Manchester Airports Group.Chief executive Charlie Cornish insisted that present expansion rates meant that his airport would apply for the repeal of existing local council limits and then lobby for a second runway to satisfy demand.

Stansted’s projected rate of growth will see it pass through its local authority-capped capacity of 35 million and hit its physical capacity on one runway of 45 million by 2030.

That means that by the mid-2020s it will have applied to the government of the day to have its council cap removed and will have re-submitted plans for a new runway.

Asked by the Times what impact the eventual ruling on London airport capacity by the Airports Commission will have on Stansted’s growth, Cornish said: “Whether its Heathrow or Gatwick, it is not material to our plans.

“In our view, what is the best for the UK is a network of competing airports and increased rail connectivity between them.

“What that means for Stansted is improved connections between London Liverpool Street and the construction of Crossrail 2 [the Herts-Surrey trans-capital project ] and, in the case of Manchester, the delivery of HS2 and HS3 [the proposed London-Manchester and Leeds-Manchester high-speed lines].”

He was speaking as MAG revealed that Stansted’s passenger numbers had increased by 1.2 million to 11.3 million in the six months to the end of September.



Recent news about Stansted and its rising passenger number this year:

Stansted passenger numbers grow at the fastest annual rate for nearly 10 years

13 Nov 2014  (Stansted press release)

The number of passengers using Stansted Airport each year is growing at the fastest rate since February 2005 as over 19.4 million passed through the terminal in the 12 months ending October 2014, an increase of 9.8% over the previous year.

Monthly passengers increased by 16.9%, the largest monthly increase in over 10 years, as more than 1.8 million passengers flew through Stansted in October, over 272,000 more than used the airport in the corresponding month last year.

October’s performance signals the start of one of Stansted’s busiest winter seasons for many years and is in addition to the announcement yesterday that Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, will launch new flights to the Isle of Man, Newcastle and Newquay from March 2015.

The growth in passengers continues to be driven by increased frequencies on key routes across Europe plus an increase in the average number of seats sold on each aircraft – up from 81.6% in 2013 to 85.2% in October 2014.

Andrew Harrison, Stansted’s Managing Director, said:

“The strong growth we’ve seen at Stansted across the summer months has continued through to October with annual passenger numbers increasing at their fastest rate for nearly 10 years to maintain our leading position as the fastest growing airport in the south-east.

“To grow our monthly passenger numbers by 16.9% demonstrates the strength of our route network and the success of our airline partners in attracting more and more passengers on to each flight as load factors continue their upward trend.

“Stansted has now seen over 1.7 million more passengers use the airport in the last 12 months, and with one of our busiest winter flight schedules for many years now in operation, we expect to see passenger numbers continuing to grow in the coming months.

“This increasing demand underpins why we believe it’s critical Network Rail’s Anglia Route Study proposals need to show more ambition and greater vision to deliver faster rail services to unlock the airport’s potential as, unlike other London airports, Stansted has spare runway capacity today and significant room to grow in the future.”



FROM SSE (Stop Stansted Expansion)


In April 2006 BAA, the then owners of Stansted Airport, submitted a planning application asking the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council, to allow the airport to expand from an annual throughput of 25 million passengers to 35 million passengers per annum. This planning application was refused by Uttlesford District Council in November 2006 after deliberations lasting seven months and drawing an overwhelming number of objections from the community at large.

BAA appealed the decision and a public inquiry was held during the summer of 2007. Our Public Inquiry page gives more details of the process for this and the principal arguments against the proposals, set out in the Statements of Case by SSE.

In October 2008, following consideration of the Public Inquiry Inspector’s report and additional representations, the Government announced approval for an increase in permitted passenger numbers from 25 to 35 million per annum and a rise in the permitted number of annual flight movements from 241,000 to 264,000.

SSE appealed the permission in a case heard at the High Court and also in the Court of Appeal but was unsuccessful.

While the case for major expansion at Stansted has always been built on a presumption of ever-increasing demand for air travel, the reality of the market actually shows falling numbers at the airport from 2007 until 2013, although there are now signs that demand is finally beginning to recover.


In March 2008 BAA, who still owned Stansted Airport at that time, submitted a planning application for a second runway. Astonishingly, this was five months before the Government had given its decision on whether BAA’s earlier planning application for expansion to 35 million passengers per annum would be approved. Nevertheless, the Government raced ahead, immediately by-passing the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council, by announcing that the matter should be heard by Public Inquiry. An Inspector was appointed and given four assistant inspectors to help speed up the process. The Public Inquiry was scheduled to start in April 2009 and take just six months. However, against a background of SSE threatening legal action if the Inquiry was rushed, the Inspector extended his draft timetable to eighteen months.

Subsequently the Public Inquiry was postponed and then eventually cancelled because so much uncertainty had arisen, mainly due to the announcement by the Competition Commission in March 2009 that BAA was to be forced to sell Stansted Airport to address the airport monopoly situation in the South East. It also seemed fairly clear at that time that there would be a change of Government at the next General Election, which would need to be held by May 2010 at the latest, and that any new Government would be very unlikely to support plans for a second Stansted runway. And so it was that on 11 May 2010, five days after the General Election, the new Coalition Government announced that it would not support a second runway at Stansted. BAA withdrew its planning application thirteen days later.

Locally, the environmental impacts of a second runway would have been devastating. It would have meant the destruction of communities that have developed over centuries as well as vast swathes of unspoilt countryside and ancient woodlands and the loss of homes. The Airport’s proposed land grab of almost 800 hectares for a second runway and related development would have created an airport site bigger than Heathrow.

Click here for more on the second runway application.

…………. and more on the SSE website at



9 December 2014  (MAG press release)

M.A.G, the largest UK-owned airport operator, today reports its interim unaudited results for the six months ended 30 September 2014.

• Strong financial performance (EBITDA +8.7%), driven by increases in both passenger numbers and commercial revenues, has ensured the continuation of the growth rate delivered over the past few years

• Long-term commercial agreements with airlines have generated a significant increase in passengers (+8.5% to 28 million), taking numbers to near record levels at Manchester and delivering industry leading growth at Stansted

• The number of destinations accessible from M.A.G’s four airports is now at record levels (+4% to 277), including the arrival of new flights to Jeddah, Eindhoven and Bologna and additional capacity provided on many existing routes such as Abu Dhabi and New York

• London Stansted has been the fastest growing major airport in the South East (+11.9% passenger numbers) and is now handling 2 million more passengers a year than it was at acquisition

• Investment continues to be made in our infrastructure, delivering significant improvements to the security and retail facilities at London Stansted and East Midlands, expansion of our car park estate and improvements to the Group’s back office functions

• Continued diversification provided through our property investment portfolio and deals announced at Airport City with DHL and PZ Cussons

• Group announces an Interim Dividend for the half year to September 2014 of £31 million. £46 million paid in July 2014 in respect of the full year ended 31 March 2014

• Sir Adrian Montague joined M.A.G as Chairman, replacing Mike Davies.

Neil Thompson, Chief Financial Officer of MAG, said:

“M.A.G has delivered a strong financial performance in the first six months of the year, meeting or exceeding its financial targets and continuing the growth rate delivered over the past few years.

“A busy summer period saw more passengers than ever before using our four airports and taking advantage of the largest number of destinations that we have ever been able to offer. Our focus on long term commercial agreements has made this possible and we continue to focus on further diversifying our route offering, particularly with regards long haul.

“I am especially pleased with the performance of Manchester which is reaching its record annual passenger level and Stansted which is now showing industry leading levels of passenger growth.

“Stansted alone has added over two million passengers since we acquired the airport in February 2013 and has begun to see substantial operational and commercial benefits from being part of the Group. Unlike other London airports, Stansted has spare runway capacity today and significant room to grow in the future and it is vital that faster rail services are delivered between London and Stansted so as to ensure that this potential is utilised.

“We also continue to invest significantly in our infrastructure, with the existing facilities at all four airports having been improved in the last six months.

“Finally, I am delighted to announce the payment of a £31 million Interim Dividend to shareholders. This is testament to the health of the business and we are confident of delivering a strong performance throughout the rest of the financial year and beyond.”

…… and it continues ………