Stansted Airport News

Stories about Stansted airport can also be found on the
Stop Stansted Expansion – (now to be called Stansted Airport Watch) website.

Stansted Airport Watch winding down – to become a Trust, the SAW Foundation

Stansted Airport Watch (‘SAW’) has announced its intention to convert into a Trust Fund to be known as the Stansted Airport Watch Foundation (‘the SAW Foundation’).  The proposal will be put to a Special General Meeting (’SGM’) of its members later in November and, in accordance with the SAW Constitution, will require a two-thirds majority of the members present to be approved. SAW Chairman Brian Ross explained the reasoning behind the proposal: “Some of the most experienced members of SAW Executive Committee have recently retired and others, including myself, have signalled their intention to retire in the near future, after having given more than 20 years’ voluntary service to the campaign.  As they say, none of us are getting any younger!”  The Foundation will not be a member organisation.  All of SAW’s assets would be transferred to the SAW Foundation.  The intention would be to replace the initial trustees, continuing from SAW, with representatives from local district, town and parish councils – to ensure that there is awareness of local environmental impacts of the airport.

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Stansted night flights – how the airport gets far more than its theoretical summer maximum

If you feel that there are more Stansted night flights than ever, you’d be right. Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) has finally been able to establish what’s been happening. Stansted is allowed a maximum of 13,700 flights a year during the 6½-hour core night period from 11.30pm to 6.00am [ the 8 hours from 11.00pm to 7.00am. However, the DfT only restricts the number of night flights during the 6½ hours from 11.30pm and 6.00am.]. That, incidentally, is more than twice the number allowed at Heathrow, so local residents in this part of the world are entitled to feel they have drawn the short straw. And that’s not the whole story. The annual limit of 13,700 night flights is divided into a summer limit of 8,100 and a winter limit of 5,600. The summer period coincides with British Summer Time, and normally lasts for 31 weeks. The local group, Stansted Airport Watch has found that these theoretical levels have been exceeded, partly as unused numbers from earlier periods can be included. Also because of “dispensations” for delayed flights.  So Stansted handled over 10,500 night flights last summer without breaching the statutory limit of 8,100.

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People should have their say on Stansted noise – by 28th August

Stansted Airport is currently consulting on its Noise Action Plan (‘NAP’) for the next 5 years. Members of the public are free to comment either on the airport’s proposals or by simply putting forward their own proposals for reducing Stansted’s noise impacts. Stansted Airport Watch (‘SAW’) strongly encourages local residents, parish and town councils and others to have their say on the draft Stansted NAP, but time is short because the consultation closes at midnight on Monday 28 August 2023.  All major UK airports have a legal duty to produce noise action plans every five years and to consult the public about their proposals for limiting the noise impacts of their operations.  SAW’s Martin Peached said of the NAP that “it lacks ambition. It contains 50 so-called “actions” but these are generally of a minor issue and many are quite meaningless. All too often Stansted Airport only gives a commitment “to consider”, “to review”, “to monitor” or “to discuss”, and so on. The commitments need to be much more meaningful and more ambitious.”  SAW gives details for people wanting to comment about issues such as night flights, reverse thrust on landing and the noisiest planes.

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Stansted Airport refuses £1.4m costs offer from Uttlesford Council and asks for £2.2m

Stansted Airport has rejected Uttlesford District Council’s offer of £1.4million to cover its legal costs for an appeal over its plan for expansion to 43m passengers a year. The airport has instead made a counter-offer of £2.2m to Uttlesford. The council was ordered to pay the airport’s legal costs after it lost an appeal against the airport’s plan in May 2021.  It voted to offer the airport £1.4m, including £1m paid on account. According to the report, Stansted’s counter-offer also includes the £1m already paid on account, but not legal costs associated with the settlement negotiations. Councillors will meet on 11th October to vote on a revised offer to the airport of £2.05m. According to the report, this would consist of £2m in respect of the claim for costs itself and £50,000 of interest. It could also make a second “all-in” offer of £2.1m, which would include all interest and costs incurred by Stansted Airport in negotiating the settlement.  It is wrong that a local council should have to pay so much of its taxpayers’ money, to try to defend its residents against negative impacts of a large company.  And that councils are then too afraid to challenge. Uttlesford will then have far less money with which to provide services to residents.

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MAG warns the 10 councils that own it that they may not get any dividends till 2027

The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) owns Manchester, Stansted and East Midlands airports.  MAG is owned by Greater Manchester’s 10 councils, which used to make  huge profits from their airports, before Covid. Several other UK airports, such as Birmingham, are owned by councils.  Since the start of the pandemic, many airports have had to be given loans by the councils that own them.  Now the MAG councils have been warned they might not receive any dividend from their ownership of MAG airports, until 2027. Several councils have become dependent on the airport money – which is a problem, if they aim to cut carbon emissions, but need as much (high carbon) flying as possible, to pay their bills and provide council services.  MAG last paid dividends in 2019, sharing £110m amongst its shareholders. Manchester City Council owns 35.5% of MAG; 9 authorities, the Metropolitan Boroughs of Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, together with Salford City Council, collectively own 29%. Australian investment fund Industry Funds Management owns 35.5%.

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Stansted had lowest number of passengers for 23 years in 2021

Stansted Airport handled just 7.1 million passengers in 2021, which is just 25% of the number in 2019.  The 2021 number is the lowest since 1998, reflecting the dramatic reduction in air travel caused by Covid.  In 2020 it handled 7.54 million passengers (73% lower than the 28.12 million in 2019).  Stansted Airport Watch says both outbound and inbound tourism declined, due to Covid.  But this decline in outward-bound tourism has had the effect of increasing the amount spent in the UK – not taken abroad on leisure trips. There was a favourable impact on the balance of payments of £26 billion in 2020, and a similar figure is expected in 2021.  As well as online purchases, people swapped home improvements and furnishings, as well as staycations, for trips abroad. This helps explain why UK GDP is now even higher than before the pandemic, and employment levels are also at a record high.  It is also reported that VAT receipts are well ahead of expectations.  This may be because there is no VAT on air travel but spending on home improvements, furnishings and staycations are all subject to VAT. While leisure demand will largely return, it is likely business air travel will never recover to 2019 levels.

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FLY LESS campaign from Stansted Airport Watch

To coincide with the start of the COP26 international climate change summit in Glasgow, Stansted Airport Watch (‘SAW’) is launching its “Fly Less” campaign.  Aviation currently accounts for around 9.4% of UK territorial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – about 38.5 MtCO2 in 2019 out of around 410 Mt CO2.  On present trends aviation could be the largest single source of UK CO2 emissions by 2050.  Stansted is (or was in 2019) the largest single source of CO2 emissions in the East of England.  The Government’s independent advisor, the Climate Change Committee, has called for a slowdown in the level of air travel and a freeze on UK airport expansion until the aviation sector can show a significant reduction in its CO2 emissions. But so far the Government has rejected this call, or any attempts at behaviour change, and is instead putting its faith in technological solutions.  SAW’s ‘Fly Less’ campaign will be  publicised on its website and social media, supported by posters, banners and car window stickers. 

SAW will also be writing to the chairmen of the FTSE top 100 UK companies, encouraging businesses to play their part by reducing business flights, which emit far more carbon per seat than economy flights.

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Hope is not a Strategy – Aviation cannot be allowed to keep adding to the climate crisis

With just two months to go before the UK Government hosts the vitally important COP26 International Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, Stansted Airport Watch (‘SAW’), and a host of other environmental campaign groups from all across the UK, are pressing the Government for immediate action to tackle aviation’s growing impact on climate change. UK aviation was responsible for 38 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2019 and the Government is content to allow this to continue to increase until 2030 and still to be more than 30 million tonnes in 2040 – by letting airports expand. In response to the DfT consultation, on its “Jet Zero by 2050” strategy, SAW has submitted a highly critical evidence paper challenging the DfT’s ‘business as usual’ strategy and its total reliance on technological solutions emerging from beyond the horizon over the next 20-30 years (new biofuels, novel fuels, electric and hydrogen fuelled planes, and carbon storage technologies). The key message from SAW is that “Hope is not a Strategy”. SAW has also submitted evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Inquiry into the apparent contradiction between the Government’s expansionist aviation policy and its declared commitment to tackling climate change.

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Stansted Airport Watch submits response to CMA consultation on greenwash; examples from Stansted and Ryanair

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which regulates business behaviour, has finally stepped in to try to end ‘greenwashing’ and has asked for evidence. Greenwashing is where businesses make dubious claims in an attempt to boost their environmental credentials, and thus sell more product.  The CMA consultation ended on 16th July. Greenwashing is all too common in the aviation industry and Stansted Airport Watch (SAW) submitted detailed evidence to the CMA relating to both Stansted Airport and Ryanair. Some of the examples of dubious claims by the airport are that it claims to be “carbon neutral”, but this conveniently ignores the carbon emissions from the aircraft (hugely higher than emissions by the airport itself). It also relies of “offsetting”, so making payments to some carbon reduction activity elsewhere, while itself continuing to emit. Ryanair has made a number of claims about being “green”, such as claims to be Europe’s “cleanest, greenest airline” but this has been ruled against by the Advertising Standards Authority, for being misleading (February 2020).

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DfT decides to roll over the night flights regime for 3 more years (not 2) for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted

The government consulted, in December 2020, on its night flights regime (closed 3rd March 2021). Part of the consultation was whether to “roll over” the current regime for the three designated airports, (Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted) for another 3 years, and it closed on 3rd March 2021. The second part is about wider night flights issues for all issues, and that closes on 3rd September 2021. The DfT has now published its “Decision Document” on the night flights regime and the designated airports. It has decided – despite pleas from numerous groups and individuals for change – not only to roll over the existing scheme, but to set this for THREE years more, rather than the two years originally proposed. The DfT says: “The restrictions will be reassessed in time for a new regime to commence in October 2025…” Airport groups at the designated airports are upset and furious. Night flight noise is probably the most hated, and the most damaging element of aircraft noise. The justifications given for night flights, about their economic necessity, are unconvincing. Sadly, people living with night flight noise from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted will be stuck with the problem, at least until 2025

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Uttlesford Council applies for judicial review of Stansted airport expansion plans

In May, the Planning Inspectorate (PI) approved plans by Stansted airport to expand its maximum number of annual passengers from 35 to 43 million. This had been opposed by Uttlesford Council, but the decision was challenged by the airport.  Now Uttlesford District Council  UDC) is trying to get this PI decision reversed, as it goes against the decision by a democratically elected council.  UDC submitted its application to the court for a JR one day before its submission deadline tomorrow, and the UDC leader John Lodge said the decision to apply for Judicial Review was taken after seeking legal advice. Local campaign, Stansted Airport Watch, had asked for a JR, so the decision is taken by the Secretary of State for Transport, not the PI. Since the PI decision, the government enshrined a new “Carbon Budget” into legislation. The Sixth Carbon Budget now aims to cut emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels, and for the first time, the carbon emissions of international aviation will be included in UK totals. That should mean the collective increases in carbon of all the airport expansion plans will have to be considered together, and none of the airports seeking expansion should be considered in isolation.

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Uttlesford District Council leader calls for Government to intervene on Stansted Airport Expansion

The leader of Uttlesford District Council (UDC), Cllr John Lodge, has condemned the Planning Inspectorate’s (PI) decision to allow expansion at Stansted as “an insult to local democracy”.  He has written to the Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps and his Housing, Communities and Local Government counterpart Robert Jenrick and urged them to intervene. The application was rejected by UDC councillors, but the airport appealed – and the PI recently approved it – going against the democratic council vote.  John Lodge called on the Government to commit to “aviation demand management” to prevent the implementation of the planning permission at the airport, to raise the cap on annual passengers, from 35 to 43 million over the next 10 to 15 years. The PI considered the behaviour of the council to have been unreasonable, as officers had recommended approval.  The PI also said costs should be awarded against UDC. The decision to let the number of flights and passengers increase is completely contrary to government’s stated seriousness about cutting CO2 emissions. The owners of the airport, the Manchester Airports Group, are mainly councils. So money will be taken by one council, UDC (not a rich council), to be paid to other councils.

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Unreasonable behaviour

“Unreasonable behaviour”: these were the words used by the Panel of Planning Inspectors to describe the conduct of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) in their formal ruling, dated 26 May, which approved an increase in Stansted Airport’s planning cap from 35 million to 43 million passengers per annum (‘mppa’).   This followed a Public Inquiry which ran from 12 January to 12 March 2021, involving three main parties, namely UDC, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE).  (Note that SSE has since been succeeded by Stansted Airport Watch (SAW). Commenting on the outcome of the Public Inquiry, SAW Chairman Brian Ross, said: “We are, of course, disappointed but we are not at all surprised, bearing in mind that the Council’s planning officers made no real attempt to defend the decision of their own Planning Committee.  We will carefully review the Panel’s ruling and discuss with our legal advisers before deciding whether to seek leave to appeal.” The approval comes despite UDC’s Planning Committee having last year voted unanimously to refuse MAG’s application for further expansion of Stansted.

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Stansted wins appeal, against refusal by Uttlesford Council, of its plans to increase capacity to 43 million passengers per year

Expansion plans for Stansted Airport have been approved by the Planning Inspectorate (PI) after an appeal.  In January 2020 Uttlesford District Council (UDC) rejected proposals to increase Stansted’s passenger cap from 35 million to 43 million a year. However, the councillors voted against the advice of council officers, who had recommended approval of proposals. The council had originally approved the plan, in November 2018 but only by the casting vote of the chairman; many councillors then had not read, or properly understood, all the documents. Then after the Residents for Uttlesford group took control from the Conservatives in May 2019, the decision was referred back to the planning committee – the rejection decision. Stansted already had permission to increase capacity from 28 million to 35 million passengers per year.  The airport appealed against the decision, despite Covid and the near collapse of air travel in 2020.  A public inquiry was held in January to March 2021 by the Planning Inspectorate.  In its decision, the PI said:  “there would be a limited degree of harm arising in respect of air quality and carbon emissions” but that was “far outweighed by the benefits of the proposal”. UDC has also been ordered to pay the costs of Stansted’s appeal.

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DfT and MHCLG both reject application to have Stansted expansion called in

There was a Planning Inquiry from January to March, into the rejection by Uttlesford council of the application by Stansted airport to increase its annual air passenger cap from 35 million passengers, to 43 mppa. Local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) asked the government (two departments) to call in the application, for consideration by government, rather than just by Uttlesford District Council. Now SSE has received letters from both the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Department for Transport, refusing the request for a call in. The MHCLG said “the Secretary of State has carefully considered your request but has decided in this case not to issue a direction for joint determination under s266 of the 1990 Act. The jurisdiction of the case therefore remains with the appointed planning Inspectors, and the Planning Inspectorate will inform you of a decision in due course.” Grant Shapps (DfT) said that “the application is not of sufficient scale or significance to justify a direction. I will therefore not be making a direction in relation to this appeal.” SSE said they were unsurprised, and concerned that this may set a bad precedent for appeals by other airports, where the planned increase in  annual passengers is lower than that at Stansted.

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New NEF report shows the climate impact of regional airport plans has been considerably underestimated

See original image in the Guardian article here

For UK to properly take account of the overall climate impact of UK aviation – it needs to consider the emissions from departing AND arriving flights (it currently ignores arriving flights). And also the non-CO2 impacts on climate. Maximum impact is multiplier of x3 (shown here). The multiplier could be x2.

A report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) says the climate impact of expansion plans at regional airports in England has been dramatically underestimated and would threaten the UK’s legally binding climate commitments.  NEF calculated that proposals to expand 4 airports (Bristol, Leeds Bradford, Southampton and Stansted) will lead to an increase in CO2 emissions up to 8 times higher than the airports previously claimed. This means the alleged economic benefits claimed, from more aviation, were overestimated, as they ignore around £13.4bn worth of climate damage the extra flights could cause. Alex Chapman, the author of the report, said the findings raised concerns about the level of scrutiny the airport expansion proposals had received from government. Alex said: “The secretary of state should step in and conduct an independent review of all four of these proposals and their compatibility with the UK’s climate targets.”  The airports all use unproven and undeveloped technologies to achieve future fuel-efficiency savings. Most airports only took account of CO2 of outbound flights, not of inbound flights, and ignored the non-CO2 impacts of flights.

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Stop Stansted Expansion chairman Peter Sanders reflects on two decades of campaigning against airport expansion

After 17 years of campaigning, 82-year-old Peter Sanders CBE is stepping down as Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) chairman as the organisation begins a new era with a fresh name – Stansted Airport Watch (SAW). SSE was founded in 2002 in response to Government proposals which shocked the local community by setting out options for expanding Stansted with up to 3 additional runway – at the time the low cost airlines were getting going. Stansted could have become twice as big as Heathrow.  In its White Paper of 2003 the Government declared its support for an extra runway at Stansted, to be open by 2012 at the latest. After years of campaigning, in 2010, one of the first acts of the newly-formed coalition Government was to withdraw its support for a 2nd Stansted runway. It was, of course, too good to last for very long. The Airports Commission was set up, but in the end it did not even short-list Stansted for a second runway. It did say that if, in the 2040s, another runway was needed, Stansted could be one of the options. The Government accepted these recommendations. Meanwhile, the work for SAW continues, to contain the negative impacts of Stansted Airport.

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Stop Stansted Expansion to be renamed Stansted Airport Watch

Stop Stansted Expansion has announced its intention to bring an end to almost 19 years of campaigning under the SSE banner, to be replaced by Stansted Airport Watch (SAW). The proposed rebranding of SSE forms part of a number of changes to be recommended for approval at the AGM. SSE Chairman, Peter Sanders, explained the rationale for the changes, as it being very unlikely Stansted will be expanding capacity for many years to come.  Due to Covid, the current planning cap of 35 million passengers per annum is not expected to be reached within the next decade and it is questionable whether permission to grow to 43mppa – i.e. the issue at stake at the Public Inquiry – will ever be needed.  And so it makes sense to change the name, as much of the group’s work has been on issues of noise, flight paths, aviation policy, taxation, carbon emissions, compensation – generally trying to reduce the harm done by the airpot – not only expansion. Peter Sanders will himself be standing down as Chairman of SSE at this year’s AGM, having been a founder member of SSE in 2002 and its Chairman since 2004. He will probably be replaced by Brian Ross, who has long been Deputy Chairman.

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Stansted Public Inquiry – MAG challenging Uttlesford’s refusal – has ended. Inspectors’ decision by June?

The Stansted Airport Public Inquiry to consider plans for further airport expansion (from 35 to 43 mpps) came to a close on Friday 12 March after 8 weeks of evidence hearings and cross-examinations.  QCs for the 3 main parties – Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) – presented their closing submissions at the end of last week.  It will now be for the Panel of 3 Inspectors to decide whether to approve the airport expansion proposals.  A decision is expected in around 3 months (June?).  UDC’s Planning Committee had voted 10-0 to refuse permission, though officers had recommended acceptance. SSE says the Inquiry might not have been necessary if UDC had supported SSE’s call, 3 years ago, for the Secretary of State for Transport to deal with the Stansted Airport Planning Application nationally.  Instead, UDC insisted on dealing with the application itself, despite its limited resources and expertise in this area.  During the inquiry, most of the legal attack by MAG was against the detailed evidence produced by SSE, as UDC did not present much.

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Stansted Airport Public Inquiry into expansion plans – started 12th January

After over 3 years of fierce resistance by the local community, the proposed expansion of Stansted Airport will be decided by a Public Inquiry which opens on Tuesday 12th January.   The outcome will determine whether Uttlesford, East Herts, and other surrounding districts will continue to consist of largely rural communities or will, in time, become further blighted and urbanised in the same way as large areas around Gatwick and Heathrow airports.  Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) considers it entirely irrational, and potentially dangerous, for the Government’s Planning Inspectorate to insist that the Public Inquiry must start at the height of the Covid pandemic.  Stansted already has permission for 35 million passengers and its passenger throughput peaked at 28 million in 2018, with passenger numbers in decline since mid-2019, long before the pandemic. It is applying to expand to 43mppa.  In 2020, Stansted handled just 7 million passengers and has forecast that it will take years to return to pre-pandemic levels. Plainly, there is no urgency to increase the current planning cap.

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DfT publishes night flights consultation (the 3 designated airports) – no concessions to airport groups for another 4 years…?

Historically, the DfT has set the night flight regime – for the “designated” airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted – for periods of 5 years. The last regime was in 2017, for the period from October 2017 to October 2022. The DfT says: “The aim of the regime was to maintain the status quo and ensure that communities do not experience any overall increase in the noise created by night flights.” It has allowed a high level of night flights, with no reductions on earlier numbers, despite significant community opposition.  Seventeen airport groups wrote to the Aviation Minister on 10th November, asking that night flights should be limited in future, with a proper night period in which no flights are permitted (other than genuine emergencies). The aim was to make their point before the DfT consultation (by which time the DfT has decided what it intends to do …). The government has now published its new night flights consultation, for the period 2022 to 2024. The DfT intends there to be no change to the current regime (no concessions to suffering from being overflown at night) other than phasing out the noisiest planes, which airlines are getting rid of anyway, due to Covid. DfT says: “… we are also seeking early views and evidence on policy options for the government’s future night flight policy at the designated airports beyond 2024, and nationally.”

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Groups write to Aviation Minister, asking for new limits on night flights – including need for an 8-hour night period

A long list of organisations and groups have signed a letter to the Transport Minister, Robert Courts, asking for action to limit night flights.  It is understood that the government intends to publish a consultation and call for evidence on night flights later this year.  The groups hope the DfT will take their views into consideration, and not (as in 2017) decide policy on night flights BEFORE consulting.  They say that all night flights, other than for emergency and humanitarian purposes, should be banned at all UK airports. The period defined as night should be an eight hour period. If any night flights are to be permitted, their number and impacts should be regulated far more robustly than they are now, at all airports. In the past, the government has argued that the economic benefits of allowing planes to fly at night outweigh the health and quality of life costs of those negatively affected. This can no longer withstand scrutiny, as many flights are just to perpetuate a low-cost carrier business model that generates unsustainable levels of leisure flights. The demand for business flights is increasingly replaced by internet communications, and most air freight does not need to arrive the next day.

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Stansted airport inquiry to start in the midst of the Covid pandemic

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has described the decision to schedule a January start for the Public Inquiry into further expansion at Stansted Airport as “dangerous, unwise and unnecessary” in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, warning that it could jeopardise community involvement in the hearings.  The public inquiry is being held following an appeal by Stansted’s owners, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) against the refusal by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to allow expansion of the airport to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers, compared to 28 million last year. The refusal, by the UDC Planning Committee, was by a resounding margin of 10 votes to nil.  SSE believes that a three-month deferral would be a safer and more sensible way forward, not least given the major impacts which the pandemic is having on the aviation industry. Stansted will handle fewer than 9 million passengers this year, one third of last year’s total. Experts say it will take five years before passenger numbers return to 2019 levels – if it ever does. Despite strong objections from SSE, the start date has been set for 12 January 2021. It is planned to be an in-person event, with attendant Covid infection risks, and SSE says it should be done by using video technology, but this has limitations on effective public participation and access.

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Stobart job losses due to Covid pandemic and decreased air travel


More than 60 jobs are at risk at Manchester Airport as part of Stobart Aviation Services’ plans to cut 250 jobs across the UK.

The roles under threat are mainly baggage handlers. In Manchester it is 40% of Stobart Aviation Services’ workforce.

The company is also looking to reduce the number of people it employs at Southend and Stansted Airports by more than 60%. 





In an email sent on 28th July, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) congratulated Steve Griffiths on his appointment as Managing Director of Stansted Airport, but urged him to listen to the local community and to reconsider the Airport’s proposed appeal against the unanimous rejection of its planning application by Uttlesford District Council.

In the email SSE’s Chairman, Peter Sanders, said an appeal would be costly and time-consuming for all parties at a time when they are hard pressed by other important issues.

MAG to appeal council’s refusal of Stansted expansion proposals – SSE says this is “CALLOUS, CYNICAL AND POINTLESS”

The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has decided to appeal against the refusal by Uttlesford District Council of the expansion plans of Stansted airport. Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) Chairman, Peter Sanders, said this was “callous, cynical and pointless” and prolongs uncertainty. MAG has been seeking an increase in the permitted number of flights using Stansted, up from the present limit of 35 mppa to 43mppa.  Stansted’s actual throughput in 2019 was 28 mppa and will be very significantly lower in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19.  Uttlesford District Council (UDC) first received MAG’s expansion proposals for Stansted in June 2017 and spent more than two and a half years considering the issues prior to 24 January 2020 when its (cross-party) Planning Committee voted by 10 votes to zero to refuse the application. MAG itself had said it wanted the application to be determined locally rather than nationally, and that UDC was the “competent and appropriate authority” to deal with its application. But now it is appealing, for the decision to go to a Public Inquiry, that would be costly for UDC at a time when finances are struggling.

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EasyJet plans to close bases at Stansted, Newcastle and Southend – and cut staff by as much as 4,500

EasyJet says it has begun consultations on plans to close its bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle airports, though it will keep routes using those airports. It will no longer keep planes there, or base crew there. EasyJet may also be cutting its number of employees by up to a third, about 4,500 out of 15,000 overall.  About 1,300 cabin crew could lose their jobs, and also 727 pilots (which is about a third of the total). The Unite union said “There is no need for this announcement at this time, especially since Easyjet has taken a multi-million pound government loan which it ought to be putting to use defending UK jobs.” But there is little demand for flying at present, and no certainty about Covid in the coming months. Easyjet currently has 11 bases in the UK, with 163 aircraft, serving 546 routes. There are 7 aircraft based at Stansted, with 335 crew. At Southend, there are 4 aircraft and 183 crew; and at Newcastle there are 3 planes and 157 crew. The job cut proposals are not limited to the bases that may close. EasyJet does not expect 2019 levels of demand to be reached again until 2023.

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Stop Stansted Expansion ask MAG not to challenge Uttlesford DC’s decision to oppose expansion, saving public money to help with Covid recovery

Uttlesford District Council (UDC) refused the Stansted Airport planning application on 24 January this year. But the airport’s owners, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said an appeal was being considered. Legally, 6 months is allowed for a planning appeal and 3 months of that have now passed. An appeal would trigger a Public Inquiry which would mean that the final outcome might not be known for possibly another 18 months.  Meanwhile UDC has felt it had to set aside £1.7 million to cover the potential costs of a Public Inquiry, and the risk of UDC being forced to pay MAG’s costs if MAG wins. Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has asked MAG  to show magnanimity in the current circumstances of the Covid pandemic, by announcing that it will respect the decision made by UDC in January, and not appeal. SSE say “it’s time to end the uncertainty … Now more than ever, MAG should respect the UDC decision.” SSE want the airport to withdraw its application for expansion to from 35mppa to 43 mppa. The £1.7million would be far better spent, by UDC, “to assist local businesses and local residents, including airport employees who have been laid off, during the virus crisis.”

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Stansted passenger numbers continue to fall – indication that airport growth is not needed

Stansted Airport handled 1.9 million passengers in January, 30,000 fewer than the same month last year, making this its 7th consecutive month of decline. A number of reasons have been suggested for Stansted’s decline, including the non delivery of Boeing 737 Max aircraft to Ryanair, the collapse of Thomas Cook and now also the Coronavirus. However it is noteworthy that Stansted’s main competitor, London Luton Airport, achieved 6.8% growth in passenger numbers during the second half of 2019 whereas Stansted passenger numbers fell by 2.5%.   Stop Stansted Expansion say these figures are all the more surprising in view of the many new routes which Stansted has announced in recent months, suggesting that many of its well-established routes have declined quite sharply.  Stansted’s cargo business also continues to be in decline with the tonnage carried in January down by 20.2% compared to the same month last year.  This follows a 9.6% decline in cargo tonnage in 2019. Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) Chairman Peter Sanders commented: “These latest Stansted Airport traffic figures provide further confirmation that there is no need to approve further expansion at Stansted for the foreseeable future.”

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High Court won’t intervene on Stansted planning application being regarded as an NSIP

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed disappointment at the High Court decision, announced that the Secretary of State for Transport does not have a statutory duty to treat the current Stansted’s planning application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).​  SSE challenged the decision that the plans were not considered to be an NSIP in mid November. Though Uttlesford District Council originally approved the expansion plan in November 2018, the council then rejected the plans (new councillors after council elections) on 24th January 2020. It is likely that Manchester Airports Group, the owners of Stansted airport, will appeal against the Uttlesford decision, so the issues would be examined at a Public Inquiry, with the Secretary of State making the final decision.  That means that whether the airport’s expansion plans are regarded as an NSIP, or if the airport appeals, the final decision would be by the Secretary of State. And SSE says the NSIP route would be cheaper for all concerned.

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Stop Stansted Expansion calls upon Manchester Airports Group to respect Uttlesford DC decision

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has called upon the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – owners of Stansted airport – to respect the Uttlesford District Council (UDC)’s decision to refuse the airport’s latest expansion proposals – and has urged MAG not to appeal against the decision.​ Welcoming the Council’s decision to refuse permission, SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: “I would firstly like to express appreciation and gratitude to the Uttlesford councillors on the Planning Committee not only for reaching this decision today but also for the very thorough and professional manner in which they have dealt with this Planning Application.  I believe that I speak not only for Stop Stansted Expansion in this regard but for almost the entire local community.”​  If MAG lodges an appeal against UDC’s refusal to the Secretary of State, the consequence could be a lengthy public inquiry and continued uncertainty for the local community for another year or more.​  If there is an appeal, SSE has pledged itself to support UDC in presenting the case at public inquiry.  This should assist in minimising costs whilst also sharing technical expertise.​

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Stansted Airport expansion definitively rejected by Uttlesford council

Stansted expansion plans have been rejected by Uttlesford District councillors at a special planning committee meeting.  The decision was made with 10 councillors voting to overturn the previous approval, and two councillors, who were also members of SSE, abstaining. Officers had recommended approval of proposals to increase the airport’s passenger cap from 35 million to 43 million per year.  The expansion had included 2 new taxiways and 9 new hangars, expanding the number of flights it can handle from 227,000 up to 274,000. There are about 28 million passengers now per year.  Originally the council approved the plan, giving it conditional permission, but after the Residents for Uttlesford group took control from the Conservatives in May, the decision was referred back to the committee. The councillors who voted for expansion in 2018 lost their seats last year. Council officers said there were no new material considerations to justify a different decision from the one made in November 2018 when the plans were approved. It was a 7 hour meeting, “in which the chairman had to tell members of the public to stop applauding those opposing the plans.” It is possible MAG, which owns Stansted, may appeal.

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New research shows no safe limit for PM2.5 which would hugely increase with expansion of airports, (eg. Stansted – or any other large airport)

New research published in the British Medical Journal on 30 November has shown that airborne emissions of fine carbon particles – known as PM2.5 – can have serious health impacts even when the level of concentration is below the World Health Organisation’s guideline limits for air pollution. PM2.5 emanates especially from fuel combustion and transport sources and is one of the major issues associated with airport expansion, not only because of the additional air pollution caused by the increased number of flights but also from the additional road traffic generated by the increase in passenger numbers travelling to and from the airport.  There are links between PM2.5 and respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as Parkinson’s and diabetes, and there are now others. The expansion of Stansted Airport is expected to hugely increase air pollution. Its own figures indicate the expansion to 43 mppa would lead to perhaps an extra 25% – 13.6 tonnes – of PM2.5 into the air that local residents, have to breathe.  That is wholly unacceptable, knowing the severe health impacts upon the local population.

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Stansted likely to publish revised expansion plans in first half of 2020

Stansted has announced plans to submit a revised expansion proposal during the first half of 2020.  MAG’s new design proposals will replace plans launched in 2016.  The revised proposal is understood to contain plans for a new arrivals building. Under the original proposal, expansion was estimated to have been completed by next year.  A statement by the airport cited “fluctuating travel, social and economic trends” as a reason for the change in plans, and the “political landscape at a national and local level.”   The airport confirmed enabling works are still underway. The arrivals building is one of a number of developments planned at Stansted, including a 3,000 space carpark and baggage system update. Stansted plans to increase its passenger number from 35 million per year, to 43 million. But this is on hold at present, due to a legal challenge by Stop Stansted Expansion. They have evidence that the airport was planning to expand to 50 mppa and intended to do so in two stages: first, by seeking an 8 mppa uplift in the cap, to 43 mppa; and then later seeking a 7 mppa increase to 50 mppa.  A  court judgement is expected early in the new year.

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Stansted Airport denies plans to expand to 50 million passengers a year

Stansted Airport has denied that it is planning to expand the airport to a throughput of 50 million passengers a year (mppa), well beyond the 43mppa limit applied for in its 2018 planning application, which continues to be under consideration. Local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), says this denial came from Thomas Hill QC, representing Stansted, on 13th November in the High Court in connection with SSE’s legal challenge over the handling of the current 43 mppa application.  However, earlier SSE’s barrister, Paul Stinchcombe QC, had provided the Judge with multiple sources of evidence demonstrating that the airport was planning to expand to 50 mppa and intended to do so in two stages: first, by seeking an 8 mppa uplift in the cap, to 43 mppa; and then later seeking a 7 mppa increase to 50 mppa.  The DfT was aware of all this and knew also that the existing runway was capable of handling 50 mppa. Any airport expansion project, or combination of projects, for an increase of over 10 mppa must, by law, be dealt with at national level by the Secretary of State rather than by the Local Planning Authority – i.e. Uttlesford District Council. The verdict of the court is awaited.

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John McDonnell says Labour could scrap Heathrow expansion, as it does not meet key criteria – those also apply to other airports … like Stansted…

John McDonnell has suggested that Labour would cancel the expansion of Heathrow if it wins power, and it might even also block other airport projects.  John said climate change would dominate the party’s agenda in government. Labour have said for some time that the current 3rd runway plans “very clearly” do not meet Labour’s key criteria – its 4 tests – on protecting the environment. On climate grounds alone, plans to increase capacity at Manchester, Leeds Bradford, Bristol, Gatwick, Stansted and East Midlands airports would need to be assessed by the same criteria.  He said that ensuring the “survival of our planet” would be Labour’s “number one priority” in government, with climate change becoming a “key” factor in all policy and investment decisions. Labour have the problem that some unions hope airport expansion will provide more jobs, and therefore back it, while knowing there is a carbon problem.  John McDonnell’s constituency, Hayes & Harlington, would be the worst affected by a Heathrow runway, in terms of homes destroyed and area covered in airport infrastructure. The 3rd runway fails not only on environmental grounds (carbon, noise, air pollution) but also on economic and social impacts.

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Groups write to Government asking for a moratorium on airport expansion planning applications

Representatives of groups at some of the largest UK airports have written to both the Secretaries of State for Transport, and Housing, Communities and Local Government, to request a halt to airport expansion.  The letter asks them to suspend the determination by all planning authorities of applications to increase the physical capacity of UK airports, or their approved operating caps, until there is a settled UK policy position against which such applications can be judged.  Many UK airports are seeking – or have announced their intention to seek – planning approval to increase their capacity and/or their operating caps. In aggregate it has been estimated that proposals announced by UK airports would increase the country’s airport capacity by over 70% compared to 2017.  There is no settled UK policy on aircraft noise, or  policy on aviation carbon and how the sector will, as the CCC advises,  “limit growth in demand to at most 25% above current levels by 2050”. The letter says: “Until a settled policy with set limits is established for greenhouse gas emissions and noise there should be a moratorium on all airport expansion planning applications.”

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SSE will be in the High Court from 12-14 November for a Judicial Review challenge of the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport (SST)

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) will be in the High Court from 12-14 November for a Judicial Review challenge of the decision of the Secretary of State for Transport (SST) to allow Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to determine the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application for 43 mppa.  The essence of the SSE challenge is that the application should be treated as a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) under the Planning Act 2008 – because it is nearly 10 million extra annual passengers – and therefore determined by the Secretary of State for Transport, rather than UDC.  Part of the challenge relates to the CO2 emissions impact of the proposed development. It is not satisfactory for the DfT to say the limiting of aviation carbon emissions is not an issue for Local Planning Authorities (LPAAs). The SST cannot just sit back and allow LPAs to sanction major airport expansion projects all over the UK, and at the same time tell them to disregard aviation CO2 emissions of these airport expansion projects.  Many airports plan expansion, and the combined carbon emissions way exceed even lax future cap targets.  SSE will be trying to pin down the SST on this key issue.

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Lower Stansted passenger numbers recently shows there is no urgency for agreement to allow expansion

After 63 consecutive months of year-on-year growth, Stansted Airport has posted a reduction in passenger numbers in each of the past three months (July, August, September).  Passenger numbers were down 0.5% in July, down 3.7% in August and down 2.7% in September, compared to a year earlier.  The overall reduction over the 3 month period was some 200,000 passengers, equivalent to a year on year decline of 2.3%.  Luton posted a 7.3% increase for three months to 31 August with 5.3 million passengers.  (Luton and other airport numbers from the CAA for September are not yet available).  One reason for the fall in numbers at Stansted is the late arrival of Boeing 737 Max planes to Ryanair. Stansted’s passenger numbers are also expected to be down in October, partly due to the collapse of Thomas Cook at the end of September.  Stansted’s cargo tonnage was down with a loss of 28,000 tonnes (11%) on a year-on-year basis, with the number of cargo aircraft using Stansted is down 6% compared to 2018. All that shows there is NO urgency to allow Stansted higher annual passenger numbers. SSE said: “At the very least, Uttlesford District Council should do nothing until we all know the outcome of SSE’s legal challenge in the High Court, which takes place from 12th-14th November.”

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Independent legal advice says the 2018 decision on Stansted Airport expansion should be reconsidered by Uttlesford Council

Stop Stansted Expansion say the 2018 Stansted Airport Planning Application should be considered entirely afresh.  That’s the verdict of leading planning barrister Paul Stinchcombe QC in an independent legal opinion prepared for Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE).  In the interests of transparency the full (25-page) legal advice is now published today and will be available online at The QC’s opinion sets out the key precedents in planning law and confirms that Uttlesford District Council (UDC) is lawfully entitled to reconsider the entire Planning Application even if there have been no material changes in circumstances or any relevant new considerations.  However, a number of new material factors which have arisen since the Application was provisionally approved last year mean there is not only an entitlement to reconsider, but an obligation to do so.  The QC’s advice explains that, provided there are good planning reasons, the new Planning Committee could quite lawfully and reasonably reach a different planning judgment from the former Committee who, by the slenderest of margins provisionally approved the Application last November.

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CLIMATE CHANGE:  Deeds must now match words, by Uttlesford Council, on Stansted expansion

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has strongly welcomed the resolution by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to declare a climate and ecological emergency and to commit to achieving net zero carbon status by 2030. The resolution was approved by an overwhelming majority of local councillors on 30 July 2019. SSE says the challenge now is for Uttlesford Council to convert words into deeds; its biggest challenge is Stansted’s insatiable appetite for expansion. Unless the Council acts on its climate resolution, it is just hollow words, an empty gesture.  Allowing Stansted to expand from 35mppa to 43mppa would mean the airport becoming almost as large as Gatwick. Stansted’s emissions in 2019 will be about 2.1 MtCO2. That would rise to about 2.7 MtCO2 per year, with the planned expansion. Other sectors of the economy have to cut carbon; aviation should not be allowed unrestricted growth. SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said that, on an issue as important as this for future generations, councillors should do the right thing. “History will remember those who fight for what they believe to be right long after it has forgotten those who gave way on such a vital issue.”

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Stansted planning application going back to the Uttlesford Planning Committee – SSE says it’s the right decision, legally, procedurally and democratically

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has welcomed the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) on Friday 28 June to refer the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application – to increase passengers from 35m to 43 mppa – back to the Planning Committee for further consideration. Local campaign SSE (Stop Stansted Expansion) said this is vital due to all the outstanding issues.  The proposal to refer the application back to the Planning Committee was tabled by 2 councillors from the Residents for Uttlesford (‘R4U’) party which took control of the Council in May.  R4U Leader John Lodge also supported the proposal as did the leader of the Liberal Democrats.  The proposal to re-consider the application received overwhelming cross-party support with 31 councillors voting in favour, only one against and one abstention. There was loud applause from the packed public gallery when the result of the vote was announced in the Council chamber.  Many of those present had signed the residents’ petition calling for the application to be referred back to the Planning Committee for further consideration – signed by 1,700 people. The application was initially approved, (only by the Chairman’s casting vote) in a very unsatisfactory and flawed decision, in October 2018

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SSE tells Uttlesford Council to end the secrecy and intrigue about its handing of Stansted’s planning application

The Chairman of Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), Peter Sanders, has written to the Chief Executive of Uttlesford District Council (UDC), urging her to bring an end to the veil of secrecy which has surrounded UDC’s handling of the 2018 Stansted Airport planning application (to increase the passenger maximum from 35 to 43 million) over the past two months. UDC granted conditional approval on 14th November 2018. But it is now clear that the conditions laid down by the Planning Committee have not been met.  The Committee also has a legal duty to consider any new material factors and changes (SSE has 6 examples) in circumstances that have arisen since November.  But UDC officers continue to refuse to discuss any of the above matters with SSE.  Instead, secret meetings have been held, with no minutes or other formal records. There is to be a council meeting on 28th June, including the legal advice the council has been given. SSE says it is hard to avoid drawing the conclusion that officers are trying to avoid any further public discussion of the outstanding issues in relation to the airport planning application, and issue final approval regardless of the outstanding concerns.

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Uttlesford decision on Stansted: New councillors mean an opportunity for a fresh approach

The previous council at  Uttlesford voted through expansion proposals for Stansted Airport, in November 2018, but the Chairman’s casting vote. It then came to light jhat at least some of the councillors had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. Now with the council elections in early May, there has been a huge re-shuffling. Local group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says this left no doubt as to its dissatisfaction with the incumbent administration.  The Conservatives retained just 4 out of their 24 seats, making this proportionately the largest loss by any ruling party in any District Council in the entire country. The 5 members of the Council’s Planning Committee who voted in favour of the Stansted Airport planning application last November are no longer councillors, whereas the 5 who voted against were all re-elected. Voters were unhappy that an unpopular administration had attached greater priority to the commercial interests of Manchester Airports Group than to the wellbeing of local residents. SSE now looks forward to re-establishing a constructive dialogue with the Council.

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SSE takes Communities Secretary James Brokenshire to JR on Stansted expansion, including its CO2 emissions

Campaign group, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) say they will use latest EU figures showing Ryanair as one of Europe’s biggest polluters in their latest judicial challenge. Currently about 21 million of Ryanair’s 130 million passengers in 2018 travelled via Stansted. Ryanair has the highest CO2 emissions (for intra-EU flights) of any European airline. Its flights emitted 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on 2017, and up 49% over the past 5 years. SSE say the added argument of  the vast carbon emissions, to only be hugely worsened by expansion to 43 mppa, is another reason why the planning consent by Uttlesford council, for the airport expansion, should be called in for determination by the government. The Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has said his reason for not intervening was that the application does not involve issues of “more than local importance.” Carbon emissions are indeed of much more than local significance – it is a global issue. Brian Ross, from SSE said:  “You can’t just allow local authorities to approve an increase in carbon emissions as they like. There needs to be national co-ordination.”

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Stop Stansted Expansion to start legal challenge to government decision not to call in expansion application

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has confirmed that it will commence legal proceedings to challenge last week’s decision [20 March] by the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire not to intervene in the decision by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) to approve the expansion of Stansted to 43 mppa.  Brokenshire said his reason for not intervening was that “the application does not involve issues of more than local importance”.  SSE considers this conclusion to be completely wrong. In the next month or two, Stansted is expected to overtake Manchester to become the UK’s 3rd busiest airport.  The noise, air pollution, community health and road traffic impacts of Stansted are felt far beyond the borders of Uttlesford, and the 3.7 million equivalent tonnes of carbon dioxide attributable to Stansted flights this year will have significant adverse global impacts. SSE will apply to the High Court for a JR of Brokenshire’s decision. SSE solicitors have written to UDC pointing out that it would be inappropriate for UDC to issue any decision in relation to the airport planning application whilst these legal challenges are pending.  SSE already has an outstanding JR application against the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, over his decision of 28 June 2018 to allow the airport planning application to be determined locally by UDC.

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Government (James Brokenshire) rejects ‘call in’ of Stansted Airport planning application to increase passengers from 35m to 43 mppa

The Government has decided not to ‘call in’ Stansted Airport’s planning application to increase passenger numbers, which was approved by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) last year.  In February 2018, Stansted Airport owners, Manchester Airports Group, submitted a planning application to UDC that sought permission for the airport to increase the annual passenger number from 35 to 43 million per year. UDC granted this planning permission in November 2018, by a narrow vote of the Planning Committee, only won by the Chairman’s casting vote. The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, has now written to say the decision by UDC is correct, saying:  “… the application does not involve issues of more than local importance justifying the secretary of state’s intervention.” That is, of course, wrong as planes using Stansted fly over a wide area. Brian Ross from campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) said the planning consent still faces a legal challenge from SSE, versus the transport secretary in the High Court, which began last September. The case has been on hold for 4 months, pending the decision, but SSE is now takin legal advice on whether to widen the basis of its legal challenge.

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Following the decision of the Chairman of Uttlesford Planning Committee, Councillor Alan Mills, to use his (additional) casting vote in favour of the airport planning application, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) health adviser, Professor Jangu Banatvala, wrote to him to ask whether he had reviewed the latest important WHO Noise Guidelines, published on 10th October, prior to voting. The disturbing reply from Councillor Mills suggests that he was not aware of the WHO Guidelines and he believed the planning application was for 174,000 flights, rather than 274,000. He did not appear to have understood that the application was for an increase in flights, by about 25,000 per year, despite claiming to have read a third of the documents. Five councillors voted in favour of the Stansted application, but SSE has found that at least some of them had either not read, or had not understood, even the most basic information about the application. SSE said this is entirely unsatisfactory. It confirms that this application should be dealt with at a higher level than a small district council, with limited resources to deal with such a significant application with such widespread implications. SSE’s lawyers are now working on the detailed legal submissions to the Secretary of State on why he must now ‘call in’ the application for national determination.

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Uttlesford DC approves Stansted expansion plan, only by Chairman’s casting vote – but plans may now be “called in”

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed dismay and disappointment that the vote on 14th November)by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) Planning Committee granted approval for Stansted’s planning application to grow – to an annual throughput of 43 million passengers per annum (from the 35 million cap now).  If this approval is allowed to stand, it would mean that Stansted could increase its flights by 44% and its passenger throughput by 66% compared, to last year’s levels.  The Planning Committee, comprising ten elected Uttlesford councillors, split right down the middle with 5 in favour of the application (including the Planning Committee Chairman) and 5 against.  Where there is a split vote, the Council rulebook gives the Chairman an additional (casting) vote – so he gets 2 votes.  Both BBC and ITV regional news teams filmed the session, which was attended by many local people.  UDC cannot issue a decision notice until the Sec of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government (James Brokenshire) has considered whether the application should be called in. This should have been done already, as the planned expansion is very near the threshold necessary – of an increase by 10 million annual passengers.  SSE will now submit further representations to the Secretary of State asking him (again) to call in the application. They are currently also legally challenging the decision.

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Stop Stansted Expansion says Uttlesford DC planners’ recommendation is just an uncritical rehash of MAG’s claims

The recommendation by Uttlesford District Council (UDC) planning officers, published on 22 October, that the current airport planning application should be approved, will not surprise anyone who has followed UDC’s handling of this airport planning application from the beginning.  As far back as July 2017 – before the application was even submitted – UDC were openly discussing concessions that might be extracted from Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted, in return for approving the application. SSE say the UDC officers’ report is little more than a rehash of MAG’s planning statement with no attempt made to challenge the many unsubstantiated and misleading claims made in the planning application. They say UDC planning officers haven’t even bothered to check the many wholly implausible assumptions made by MAG which allow it to claim that there would be no significant adverse impacts if the application is approved – thought that would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to last year.  But UDC say this “would not result in significant adverse impacts.”  It is now for UDC councillors on the planning committee to decide.  This case seems too large and complex for a small team of planning officers in a small local authority, without the necessary resources or expertise.

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Stansted Airport expansion decision delayed again, (from 17th October) – no date set

Plans to expand Stansted have been grounded, for now. Uttlesford District Council (UDC) has postponed a meeting to determine the future of the plans, under pressure from expansion opposition. The airport wants to increase the annual passenger limit by 35 million, from 8 million now up to 43 million. Expansion plans include work to build new aircraft stands and taxiways for additional aircraft (not a runway). The meeting was originally due to be held in July, before being pushed back until October 17th. A rearranged date has yet to be set. Expansion opposition group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) successfully requested the latest delay so that technical issues can be discussed. Highways England also complicated matters with concerns about road traffic implications.  SSE said it is important that approval is not given before all the implications have been properly considered.  They say it is “astonishing” that UDC were preparing to approve the expansion “even when important issues were – and still are – unresolved.” UDC said:“As a consequence of accommodating this request, officers expect to need extra time to address any technical issues that may arise from these enhanced consultation arrangements”.

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Date set for Stansted Airport expansion planning decision by Uttlesford – 17th October

The passenger limit at Stansted could be lifted from 35 million a year to 43 million. Now the date of the special planning committee hearing at Uttlesford District Council, (UDC) to decide a planning application that would mean potentially millions more people going through Stansted, has been announced. UDC said the special planning committee is will be on October 17th, following 3 public speaking sessions the week before the decision will be made.  The decision on whether to allow the airport to increase its annual passenger numbers was due to be decided in July, but because of the lack of information on sections of the application the meeting was delayed.  There has been staunch opposition from residents fighting to stop any increase in passenger numbers. In August, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) filed legal papers to try and force the government to make the decision on the application, saying that UDC didn’t have the experience or expertise to handle such a complicated application.  Currently the airport is operating with around 27 million passengers per year, eight million fewer than its current passenger limit. SSE will continue  with legal action to make central government decide the plans, irrespective of the decision taken by UDC’s planning committee.

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Stop Stansted Expansion wants Uttlesford District Council to allow more time (not 31st August deadline) for consultation on airport expansion plans

Campaigners against plans to expand passenger numbers and flights at Stansted  are calling for more time for the public to consider new information about the plans.  Airport owner MAG is seeking permission to raise the upper threshold for passenger numbers and flights.  Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) argues Uttlesford District Council’s (UDC) August 31 deadline for comments on an extra 900 pages of information is not enough. SSE says the council and the airport owners were seeking to “rush through” the application, and corners were being cut.  SSE chairman Peter Sanders said: “This is an impossible deadline to achieve, unless Uttlesford only wants to receive superficial responses. Parish and town councils don’t even meet during August, nor does UDC council or cabinet. August is a lost month so far as a public consultation is concerned.  It is especially galling because Uttlesford caused this problem in the first place. The council should not have accepted such a deficient planning application back in February. It is a case of more haste, less speed.” SSE is pursuing a high court challenge aimed at transferring responsibility for determining the planning application from UDC to the Secretary of State.

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Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the airport’s expansion plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served legal papers requiring the Government to take control of deciding the latest Stansted Airport expansion proposals, or face proceedings in the High Court. This puts the Secretary of State for Transport on formal notice of a Judicial Review application if he fails to designate the airport’s planning application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) within 14 days. Such a designation would mean the application would be considered nationally (a longer, more detailed, more effective process) rather than by the local planning authority, Uttlesford District Council (UDC). The application for expansion at Stansted was submitted by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) on behalf of the airport last February. If approved it would mean a 44% increase in flights and a 66% increase in passengers compared to 2017 levels. From the outset, SSE fiercely opposed the attempt to rush through the application and has argued that the scale of the application – the threshold is 10 million more annual passengers – meant that it had to be determined nationally rather than by the local Council. Stansted is trying to put the increase at 8million (35m to 43m) to avoid the NSIP process.

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Uttlesford District Council to delay decision on Stansted’s expansion application – details needed on noise, air pollution & surface access

Plans to increase the number of passengers Stansted Airport handles, along with other infrastructure, have been delayed after Uttlesford District Council (UDC) asked for more information.  Stansted’s application to expand the number of passengers allowed per year from 35 million to 43 million was due to be heard by UDC on July 18th.  But it is unlikely to be heard before at least one more consultation and one more public meeting.  A spokesperson from the council said: “The council has been examining the robustness of the evidence supplied within the application, particularly in relation to surface access, noise and air quality.  Ongoing discussions are taking place with relevant stakeholders including Highways England, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils, Natural England and engaged consultants, and further work is being undertaken.”  Additional information is needed from the airport to ensure that the Planning Committee has all it needs in order to make an informed decision on the application.  UDC has also announced that the Planning Performance Agreement (PPA), an agreement that fast tracks the application in return for monetary payments to UDC’s planning officers to cover the costs of processing the applications, will be re-negotiated.

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Stansted long-haul flights could quadruple as airlines decide against waiting for slots at Heathrow

Stansted is planning to quadruple the number of long-haul flights it offers, as delays and uncertainty continue on whether there will be a Heathrow’s 3rd runway. Stansted, as London’s 3rd largest airport, is already expanding the number of long-haul services it offers, as it begins to shift away from being a traditional hub for short-haul tourist flights. Fly Emirates will start a daily service from the airport to Dubai next week, and Primera air has also announced four new transatlantic routes from Stansted to New York, Boston, Toronto and Washington that will start this year. Stansted wants others too and its Chief Executive Ken O’Toole said that up to 25 long-haul routes had been earmarked that eventually might take the total to 33 direct long-haul destinations.  It is building a new £130 million arrivals terminal, which will be complete in 2021. It is also applying to Uttlesford district council to lift the existing cap on passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million per year – about the same size as Gatwick. Stansted airport, owned by Manchester Airports Group, believes that airlines were being attracted to Stansted due to becoming frustrated with constraints at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

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Stansted Airport expansion plans will ‘ambush local communities and residents,’ according to Uttlesford Liberal Democrats

Uttlesford Liberal Democrats say that Stansted Airport is seeking to ‘ambush local communities and residents’ with its plans to become the UK’s 2nd biggest airport. They say the submitted planning application is “unravelling under the pressure of public scrutiny” and Stansted is not being ‘open’ with local residents. Thaxted Councillor Martin Foley said public opinion is not being taken into account, nor is there enough consideration in regards to the additional traffic following the expansion, branding plans too “simplistic”. The airport is “not being open and transparent in their application to expand its capacity to 43+ million passengers per annum.” …“Firstly, they have buried their demand for the removal of current restrictions on night flights at Stansted in an appendix to their main application.” Public consultation events have not been properly promoted, and the airport’s “assessment of the impact of the additional traffic generated by the expansion is simplistic and rudimentary.” Implausibly, the airport’s CEO tries to make out there will be a lower noise impact, even with 8 million more annual passengers (35 million up to 43 million).

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Stop Stansted Expansion raises night flights and ‘noise nightmare’ concerns over airport’s expansion plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says the airport wants to change conditions which have prevented it from lobbying government for more night flights. The plans were “buried” within its planning application to expand its annual throughput of passengers from 35 million to up to 43m. It claimed it was “a clandestine attempt to betray the community”, as it raised concerns about sleep disturbance and adverse health impacts caused by night flights. “For years SSE has been calling for tougher controls to bear down on the impacts night flights have on sleep disturbance and the quality of life and wellbeing of people across the region,” said SSE noise adviser Martin Peachey. “Stansted is already allowed more than twice as many night flights as Heathrow, and night flights are set to be completely banned at Heathrow within the next 10 years as a condition of expansion.” The airport says it is not seeking any change to current night flight limits, as the limit is already set above current usage.  SSE are also concerned that the long haul and freight aircraft which airport owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is hoping to attract to Stansted are “typically larger and noisier than most aircraft types currently based there” and with less stringent night noise controls, these could become a serious noise problem for local residents.

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Stop Stansted Expansion asks Government to call in the airport’s expansion plans, or face a JR

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) have written a 36-page letter to the Secretary for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Sajiv Javid MP, asking formally for call-in of the application by Stansted for expansion.  They include District Council incompetence, bias and a series of statutory planning grounds, as reasons why the airport’s expansion plans should be determined nationally – rather than locally by Uttlesford District Council (UDC).  SSE has also made clear that refusal by the Secretary of State to call-in the application will trigger an application for Judicial Review in the High Court.  SSE is concerned that UDC has taken a blinkered approach to the rules for considering the application in its desire to do the airport’s bidding. UDC sees potential gain for itself, even though the planned expansion would be at the expense of not only the Uttlesford villages and market towns it is meant to serve, but communities further afield in Essex, Hertfordshire, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. SSE’s barrister, a planning expert  Paul Stinchcombe QC of 39 Essex Chambers has identified that UDC has erred in law in its interpretation of the rules by not recognising the application as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. If the Stansted  application was approved, it would mean a 66% increase in passengers and a 44% increase in flights compared to 2017.

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Stop Stansted Expansion critical of airport expansion application, bypassing local authority scrutiny

Stansted Airport has applied to increase the current cap on annual passenger numbers from 35 million to 43 million passengers, in what campaigners say is a ‘sweetheart’ deal with local planning authorities to avoid government scrutiny. The application to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) seeks permission to increase the use of its single runway over the next 10 years. However, the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group said the application was misleading in claiming that further expansion of the airport would have no significant environmental impacts. SSE said it was “profoundly concerned at the lengths Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is prepared to go to to avoid scrutiny by secretary of State by amending passenger numbers” as they are trying to keep the expansion to 8 million, rather than 10 million, passengers – avoiding the application being dealt with as a major infrastructure project. SSE said it understands that in return for local planning approval from the district council, MAG might make financial contributions to help fund local road schemes and other local projects in the delivery of the local plan. SSE said: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that a 44% increase in the number of flights and a 66%  increase in the number of passengers means a lot more noise, a lot more pollution and a lot more traffic on our already congested local roads.”

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Stansted applies to UDC to raise the current passenger number cap from 35 mppa to 43 mppa

Stansted airport has submitted a planning application to Uttlesford District Council to raise the current cap on the number of passengers it is permitted to handle from 35 million passengers per annum (mppa) to 43mppa, while committing to remain within current approved limits on aircraft noise and flight numbers. This is to make best use of the airport’s existing single runway over the next decade (with the usual claims of economic benefits, jobs etc etc).  Stansted say their expansion, from 35 mppa, would ease pressure on the London airport system when Heathrow and Gatwick are capacity constrained. However, local group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), says the airport handled about 25 mppa in 2017, and has permission to grow to 35 mppa, granted after a 5-month public inquiry in 2007. Despite this, in summer 2017 the airport’s owners, MAG, said they “urgently” needed permission to expand to a massive 44.5 million passenger airport over the next 12 years. They claim there will be no more noise, but in practice the gap between planes on average would reduce from about 135 seconds now, to about 85 seconds. SSE says the changes in the current application are “almost entirely presentational.”

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Stop Stansted Expansion say Government’s Aviation Forecast figures undermine Stansted’s claims on need for expansion

Claims by Stansted’s management that the airport’s growth potential over the next decade is being severely limited by the present cap on numbers at 35 mppa are being called into question by local campaign, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) following the publication of new Government figures. These numbers are in the DfT’s forecasts, published as part of the 2nd consultation on the Airports NPS (ie. Heathrow runway). Stansted’s owners, MAG, predict that it will be completely full by 2023 – and it therefore needs an increase in permitted numbers to be able to accommodate 43 million passengers in 2028. But SSE show that in the new DfT UK Aviation Forecasts, reveal this is wrong. The DfT central forecast for Stansted is that it should expect to handle just 31 million passengers annually by 2030, and 35 million by 2033.  Not by 2023. Stansted airport has been talking up the need for further growth – in anticipation of its application for planning permission from Uttlesford District Council in early 2018. And if there was a 3rd Heathrow runway, the DfT projects a decline in the number of Stansted passengers – from 24mppa in 2016 to 22mppa in 2030, and just 32 mppa by 2040. SSE say: “MAG’s overstatement of potential demand to secure support for expansion is nothing more than an opportunistic ploy.”

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Stansted will hold 3 “community feedback” events on its plans to rise annual passenger number to 43m

Stansted Airport is to host three community feedback events, about its revised proposals for future growth over the next decade. There was an earlier consultation in July about growth plans. The 3 events will provide people with a further opportunity to raise questions about how Stansted intends to grow, the impacts of that growth, and how it could make best use of its existing capacity. Currently Stansted has a planning cap on the annual number of passengers, of 35 million. It initially proposed this being raised to 44.5 million (just under the 10 million rise, that would require it to be dealt with an Nationally Significant Infrastructure project, but a different process) and has now reduced this to 43 million. Stansted claims this could be achieved without increasing the number of aircraft movements (= flights) that are currently permitted to operate each year or the size of the airport’s approved noise ‘footprint’.  A key issue for local people who would be affected by the expansion is noise, and just how much that would get, if an extra 8 million passengers per year were permitted. That would require planes being fuller, and also larger planes – which inevitably are noisier than smaller ones, even with new technologies to reduce noise.  Stansted will next submit the final planning application to Uttlesford District Council in early 2018.

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Stansted Airport lowers growth target from 44.5 million to 43 million per year

Stansted Airport has scaled-back its expansion plans, saying it will achieve is growth ambitions without seeking any increase in the number of flights it is allowed to handle. Stansted current has permission for 35 million passengers per year, while it currently has about 25 million. But the airport said in June that  it ‘urgently’ needs the cap to be raised to 44.5 million. Stansted is now saying it wants the cap raised to 43 million, not 44.5 million – and they can accommodate that growth by use of larger planes. They say they can get to 43 million passengers without increasing the noise “footprint” that is already authorised under the current capping arrangements. Stansted is hoping to get a lot of growth in passenger numbers, in the time before (if it ever happens) a 3rd Heathrow runway is built. Stansted hoped to get the growth to 44.5 million passengers, about 9 million more than now, through on a regular planning application – rather than having to go through the more rigorous National Infrastructure process, that would be needed for a 10 million passenger increase. Local campaign Stop Stansted Expansion said: “People shouldn’t be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s spin doctors. The new planning application would still mean an extra 1,800 flights a week compared to today’s levels.” There will now be more feedback sessions by Stansted during November, before a final planning application to Uttlesford Council early in 2018.

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Stansted had 25m passengers this year – finally well above levels in 2007 after years of declines

Stansted airport had 25 million passengers in the past year, its highest number ever. Numbers of passengers using Stansted have been growing rapidly in recent years following its acquisition in 2013 from the former BAA group by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) – and the end of the recession that started in 2008. There are now some new operators, as well as increased activity by established airlines, including Ryanair. Stansted says it now has 190 destinations, and a growing route network. They are now having their busiest summer ever, and hope to get to 26.5 million passengers by the end of 2017. Ryanair said that since its first Stansted flight in 1989, it has carried over 230 million passengers through Stansted with over 140 Stansted routes.  The airport has recently given formal notification of its intention to submit a planning application later this year to seek permission to grow to an annual throughput of 44.5 million passengers and 285,000 flights. This compares to last year’s throughput of 24 million passengers and 180,000 flights. Stansted only got back the number of passengers it had in 2007 by 2016 – after years of declines.

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Stop Stansted Expansion says the new night flight rules are a missed opportunity

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) says the new night flight rules, set out by the DfT, do not go far enough to tackle the impact at Stansted on sleep disturbance for residents. They say the night flight restrictions, which are set to be introduced in October, and last for 5 years, are a missed opportunity to bring relief to thousands who suffer from broken sleep due to overflying aircraft.  Martin Peachey, SSE’s noise adviser, said the new rules will not lessen the impacts of aircraft noise at night for residents. Though the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is well aware of the impact of night flight noise on health and well-being, the new rules won’t actually lessen the impacts that people will experience, or improve the quality of their sleep between 11.30pm and 6am. The DfT has chosen to prioritise the economic benefits of night flights over quality of life for those affected by the noise. One small improvement is that some 1,700 previously “exempt” aircraft will now be recognised and added into the overall night time quota. The movement limit for Stansted up to 2017 was 5,000 in winter (the dates as for British summer Time) and 7,000 for summer. Now up to 2022 the movement limit will be 5,600 and 8,100 – both much higher. The Quota Count till 2017 was 3,310 in winter and 4,540 in summer. Up to 2022 this will be the same, unchanged.

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Stop Stansted Expansion warn people not to be hoodwinked by deceptive displays about airport’s growth plans

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has issued a warning to residents across the region not to be hoodwinked by Stansted Airport’s smoke-and-mirror exhibition and biased consultation survey on its further expansion plans. Both appear designed to trick people into thinking that further Stansted expansion in passenger number will be painless and sustainable. They make these claims, even before the environmental impacts have been assessed. The displays are deliberately misleading, and SSE says people should be very sceptical. Brian Ross, SSE’s deputy chairman, said the displays are all about spinning the positives and saying nothing about the negatives.” People attending the exhibitions need to ask searching questions, like explanations about the proposed increase in flight lights compared to today. And  and passenger movements compared to the position today.  This, say SSE, reveals a very different picture from the one being put forward by Stansted’s bosses who have been making the false claim that the extra passenger numbers will only lead to “approximately two extra flights an hour”.  In reality the proposal would mean an extra 2,000 flights a week compared to today’s levels – 285 per day.  That means an increase from on average of a plane every 2¼ minutes, to a plane every 85 seconds.  Stansted current has permission for 35 million passengers per year, while it currently has about 25 million. But the airport says it ‘urgently’ needs the cap to be raised to 44.5 million.  And see this link too. 

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Stop Stansted Expansion brands airport expansion plans as premature and opportunistic

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has condemned Stansted Airport for insulting the intelligence of Uttlesford District Council (UDC) and the community at large by claiming that its latest expansion proposals will have “no significant adverse environmental effects”.  SSE’s Chairman Peter Sanders has further stressed the need for the council not to be hoodwinked by the airport’s spurious claim and to ensure a comprehensive, honest and thorough assessment of all the environmental impacts that would result from major expansion.  The statement comes following the airport’s formal notification of its intention to submit a planning application later this year to seek permission to grow to an annual throughput of 44.5 million passengers and 285,000 flights. This compares to last year’s throughput of 24 million passengers and 180,000 flights.  If approved, this would mean an extra 20 million passengers and an extra 104,000 flights every year blighting the lives of thousands across the region. Stansted hasn’t even started to make use of its 2008 permission to grow from 25mppa to 35mppa.  Even by its own projections, the airport doesn’t expect to reach 35mppa until 2024 although the credibility of its forecasts is questionable given its wildly inaccurate record on this front.

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Stop Stansted Expansion calls on CAA and NATS to reverse 2016 flight path change, that are causing noise misery

SSE says National Air Traffic Services (NATS), who develop flightpaths for Britain’s airports, should reverse changes made last year. The changes to flightpaths are causing “noise misery.” The changes, introduced in February 2016, have led to a doubling of flights using the easterly Clacton departure routes and led to more than four times the number of complaints about aircraft noise (4,000 in 2016 compared to 760 in 2015). NATS and the CAA are conducting a review of the changes, to assess the impacts and benefits against what was expected when the plans were introduced. SSE noise adviser, Martin Peachey, said: “Whenever there are changes to flight paths there are always winners and losers but in this instance it seems that the only winners are the airlines. There must be more equitable outcome so that local residents do not pay a high price in terms of increased noise misery.” The changes were opposed by residents at public consultation, with 82% of those who responded, but were nevertheless approved by the CAA and implemented in February 2016 because there were judged to be benefits for airlines, in terms of fuel savings and time saving. Any minor benefits for airlines are far outweighed by the additional noise misery being inflicted upon local communities. SSE is urging local residents to make their views known to NATS.

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Stansted Airport announces new £130m arrivals terminal to be completed by end of 2021

Planning permission has been granted for a 34,000 sq m arrivals terminal at Stansted Airport, (owned by Manchester Airports Group) costing about £130 million. It will include larger immigration and baggage reclaim areas. Work is expected to take up to three years to complete, and will begin in late 2018 – so finished by end of 2021. The new building was granted planning permission by Uttlesford District Council. The airport’s Chief Executive Andrew Cowan said: “At a time when airport capacity in the country is at a premium, Stansted is playing a vital role in supporting both the regional and national economy. This project will strengthen our ability to do this by enabling us to make the most efficient use of our single runway.” Once the site is complete, Stansted will be the only airport in the UK operating dedicated arrivals and departures terminals.

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Stop Stansted Expansion says DfT plans on night flights do not go nearly far enough

Following the publication of the DfT’s night flight regulation consultation, SSE is urging urging local district, parish and town councils and individual local residents to respond, to try to get the noise impacts of Stansted night-time flights reduced.  Stansted currently has permission for 12,000 night flights a year, more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow. The 12,000 annual limit applies only to the 6½ hours from 11.30pm to 6.00am whereas the normal definition of ‘night’ is the 8 hours from 11.00pm to 7.00am. Moreover, a large number of Stansted’s night flights are large, noisy cargo aircraft, many of which are very old. Unsurprisingly, these give rise to a disproportionately high level of noise complaints. SSE welcomes the DfT intention to remove the current exemption for less noisy aircraft and adjust the movements limit accordingly – but the DfT proposes to maintain the present night limit on Stansted aircraft movements.  The number of exempt aircraft has been increasing, and they need to be included in totals. SSE wants an unequivocal Government commitment to phase out all night flights at Stansted by 2030, except in the case of genuine emergencies. SSE also wants the annual flight limit  to apply, not just from 11.30pm to 6.00am, but from 11.00pm to 7.00am, so that ‘night’ truly means ‘night’.

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London Stansted Airport unveils plans for new £130 million arrivals building


London Stansted Airport has unveiled plans for a new £130 million arrivals building to significantly improve the passenger experience. The building is the latest phase in the multi-million pound transformation programme by MAG to support future growth at the airport and attract new passengers and airlines. Stansted is currently the busiest single terminal airport in the UK with up to 5,000 departing passengers alone passing through its doors every hour at peak times. With passenger numbers expected to increase over the next decade, particularly with runway capacity constraints at other London airports, Stansted is submitting a planning application for a new arrivals building designed to deliver new facilities to enhance the overall passenger and airline experience.  The plan focuses on providing the airport with a high quality environment to support its continuing growth, from today’s 24 million passengers a year to the current planning limit of 35 million. The facility is designed to ensure that in the future the airport could make full use of its single runway and serve around 43 million passengers a year, as set out in Stansted’s 2015 Sustainable Development Plan.

London Stansted Airport in numbers:
·         24 million passengers per annum
·         Fourth largest airport in the UK
·         50:50 ratio between UK and non-UK passengers
·         180+ destinations and 18 airlines
·         Third biggest cargo hub in the UK – carried 250,000 tonnes in 2016
·         Most European destinations of any UK airport – 2nd most in Europe behind Munich
·         11,600 people employed on site across 200+ on airport companies
·         MAG has spent £150 million improving the terminal facilities since acquisition in 2013

Stansted will fight if Gatwick & Heathrow both get new runways – as they did not get opportunity to make their case

Amid rumours that the government might be intending to approve runway plans for both Heathrow and Gatwick, rather than just one or other, the owner of Stansted – Manchester Airports Group – says it would launch a legal challenge if that happened. They say the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, only fully examined the case for one new runway to be built before 2030. That is what its final report in July 2015 recommended. The Commission was aware that within CO2 constraints, it would be difficult to justify adding a 2nd runway. It said any case for a 2nd new runway would “need to be closely scrutinised in the light of climate-change policy”.However, it concluded two runways might be needed to if air travel demand by 2050 was to be met, and that could be assessed later on. Tim Hawkins, MAG’s corporate affairs director, said that MAP would have to legally challenge because other airports had not been given the opportunity to present their own cases for the second phase of UK airport expansion post-2030. If there were to be two new runways approved, there would need to be a whole new process before government could make that decision. That would also include the loser this time round (Heathrow or Gatwick). Stansted did not put forward a case for a new runway to the Commission in 2012-13, as its single runway was nowhere near full.

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Flight path changes at Stansted Airport see complaints from residents soar


CHANGES to Stansted Airport’s flight paths have resulted in a tenfold increase in complaints by villagers, it has been claimed.   The amended flight paths, brought into place in February by air traffic control provider NATS, have left many residents feel their lives have been adversely affected.  Representatives from the airport and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are hosting meetings to discuss residents’ concerns.   Andy Bennett, Stansted liaison officer for Felsted Parish Council, said the council understands the number of complaints has increased 10 times since last year.  He wants to give residents the chance to speak to NATS and Stansted about the problem.  One of the sites, Andrewsfield Airfield, that is being considered by Braintree and Uttlesford councils for a major new garden settlement as part of its Local Plans, sits right beneath the current flight path. A spokesman for Great Notley Parish Council said: “At the July meeting of the Parish Council it was noted that various complaints in relation to aircraft noise had been received from residents and it was agreed to request a noise survey within the Parish.”  The sessions are being hosted in Hatfield Health Institute today between 4pm and 8pm, at High Easter Village Hall on November 9 between 3pm and 7pm, and at Felsted Memorial Hall on November 15 between 4pm and 8pm.

Stansted seeks to end current cap on annual passenger numbers of 35 million – though now at about 23 million

18 September 2016

The company behind Stansted, London’s third-busiest airport, is to call on the Government to lift restrictions on passenger numbers as it ramps up its campaign to expand and eventually build a second runway.  Charlie Cornish, chief executive at Stansted’s owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), said the company was planning to apply officially in the coming months to have its so-called planning cap, which limits it to handling 35m passengers a year, raised.  If approved, it would allow Stansted to grow by making full use of its single runway, and lead to between £400m and £500m of investment in Stansted to expand its terminal facilities so that it can handle more travellers. The move could also pave the way for a 2nd runway.   Mr Cornish said  MAG was already starting to compile supporting materials for the application, including noise and environmental studies, and is beginning to look at how it would extend its terminal. “We have to invest anyway to get to 35 million [passengers] and then to get to 42m we have to invest some more,” Mr Cornish said. Stansted’s cap was lifted to 35m from 25m in 2008. After years of falling passenger numbers, Stansted is now almost back to where it was in 2007 (23.7 million passengers in 2007 and 22.5 million in 2015.  Link 

Stansted plans to start discussions with government in a couple of years about a 2nd runway

Not to be outdone by the hopes of Heathrow and Gatwick to get another runway, Stansted is getting in on the act, and saying they will be wanting a runway in due course too. Stansted was not assessed by the Airports Commission, as Stansted had no need of a new runway, being far below capacity. The Airports Commission partly understood that, to even try to keep within the carbon cap for aviation of 37.5MtCO2 by 2050, the addition of one runway would be difficult [it risks UK carbon targets] but it still suggested that by 2040, even if building a runway by 2030, another would be “needed.” Stansted has said in the past that it would like a 2nd runway some time after 2035. Its owners, MAG, are now saying that it will “need” another runway earlier than that. Though they appreciate that there is likely to be a dip in demand for air travel for several years, due to Brexit, they are still keen on adding a runway. MAG’s CEO Charlie Cornish has told the Times: “We will be at capacity some time between 2025 and 2030, so in the next two to three years we will need to start having the appropriate dialogue with the government over the need for a second runway [at Stansted].” MAG repeatedly says the existing runway capacity at Stansted must be fully utilised, including improving its rail links.

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SSE tells Stansted airport to publish the evidence it is using to try to restrict compensation claims

Following the publication by Stansted Airport of the process it will adopt to deal with long overdue compensation payments for local residents, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has accused it of unreasonably seeking to deter thousands of local residents who may well have a valid compensation claim, from even submitting one. As part of its ‘Guide to Residents’ on submitting compensation claims, Stansted has published a map which shows an incredibly small ‘eligibility area’ – with no explanation as to the basis for this. SSE says there is absolutely no legal basis for eligibility for compensation to be thus restricted. The law only requires claimants to demonstrate that the value of their property has been reduced by physical factors (noise, air pollution etc.) arising from the airport expansion. This came about because of infrastructure that enabled the airport’s passenger throughput to triple in the space of the 8 years leading up to 2007. The limited area includes just a few hundred homes, but the full area includes many thousands of homes that have lost a significant amount of value. Stansted residents have only received any compensation for expansion much earlier, in the 1990s. SSE is advising people not to be deterred, and it will be asking Stansted for a lot more clarification of the legal basis for its attempt to limit claims.

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Stansted management changes, under new CEO Andrew Cowan

In March, Stansted airport announced that its CEO, Andrew Harrison, would be moving to the role of Chief Strategy Officer at MAG, based in Manchester. The new CEO is Andrew Cowan, who had been Chief Strategy Officer of MAG, started in the role on 1st April 2016. Andrew Harrison led Stansted since MAG’s acquisition of the airport in March 2013. Andrew Cowan will lead a team of over 1,400 employees at Stansted. Prior to becoming Chief Strategy Officer at MAG, Andrew was Chief Operating Officer of MAG and Managing Director of Manchester Airport. Stansted has now appointed Martin Jones as commercial director responsible for retail, car parking and business development. He previously worked as MAG interim retail director having joined the business from Marks and Spencer in 2015. Stansted has now also appointed Daniel Gallo as customer service and security director, having been MAG HR director and takes over from Karen Smart who moves to the position of Stansted’s assets management director responsible for developing the airport’s future infrastructure needs. Stansted wants better rail links, and soon. Charlie Cornish is the Chief Executive Officer of MAG overall, which owns Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.

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Stop Stansted Expansion prepares to launch legal proceedings against Stansted airport, over compensation delays

Stansted Airport faces legal action on behalf of thousands of local residents denied compensation over devaluation of their property caused by airport expansion. The cost to the airport could run to hundreds of millions of pounds. Stansted failed to meet a deadline (31st May) to make a public statement agreeing to introduce a compensation scheme for local residents after years of prevarication. Since 2002, Stansted has used the excuse that it has no legal obligation to pay compensation until it has completed everything listed in its 1999 Phase 2 planning consent. Completion of a small part of these works, the Echo Cul-de-Sac, has been repeatedly postponed – most recently until the mid-2020s – and has thus been branded the ‘golden rivet’ loophole. Stansted lawyers finally accepted this, but then immediately put forward a new excuse for rejecting compensation claims – that claims were now time-barred under the Limitation Act. This gave rise to withering criticism from the judge who remarked: “So, after years of telling people you can’t claim until the works are complete, you’re now saying Tee-Hee – you’re too late.” Due to Stansted stalling, SSE are now taking legal action, to safeguard the interests of local residents. SSE’s preparations for a legal challenge ,on the airport’s use of the Limitation Act, are underway. They have appointed and briefed its legal team, which includes two expert barristers and one of the country’s foremost planning solicitors.   SSE presentation with prevarication details

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Stop Stansted Expansion sets out details of Stansted’s devious attempts to avoid compensation payments from 2000

Stop Stansted Expansion have catalogued the appalling deceit and prevarication used by Stansted Airport, in its attempts to avoid making compensation payments to people affected by airport’s expansion. Work on Phase 2 was started in 1999, to take the airport up to 15 million passengers per year, and claims should then have been possible. But Stansted insisted that no claims could be made until one of the taxiway piers, Echo, was completed. Each year, from 2004 to 2011 the date when the Echo stand’s completion date was pushed further and further back (partly as Stansted had a dramatic fall in passenger numbers in the recession). Finally this April Stansted’s lawyers said ” …1 March 2007 is a relevant date at least in respect of some of the works in paragraph 1.8..” In other words Stansted finally concedes that it had been wrong to use the ‘golden rivet’ ploy to avoid paying compensation. But now Stansted has a new ploy to avoid paying compensation, saying any claim had to be brought within 6 years. The Deputy President of the Lands Tribunal remarked: “So, after years of telling people you can’t claim until the works are complete, you’re now saying Tee-Hee – you’re too late?” Stop Stansted Expansion gave the airport until 31st May to make a public statement reversing this stance – or face a legal challenge. No satisfadtory response was received in time from owners, MAG.

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Farmer at Stansted still awaiting compensation, due to airport loophole of not completing all work – to avoid paying

A farm owner who won £1 million from Stansted, because planes flying over his £2 million home slashed its value in half,  is still waiting for the pay-out 17 years later. Patrick Streeter, whose home is about 1.5 km from the end of the runway, was awarded the sum in 1999 but claims Stansted are using a wily “legal loophole”, which says the money needs to be paid only once all work is finished on the airport.  Because white lines have not been painted on a strip of airport apron, (presumably deliberately …) and a fuel pump has not been installed, Stansted has told Mr Streeter that he is not entitled to his pay-out yet.  He says the constant din of planes makes the place unbearable to live in, and he believes it would be almost impossible to sell.  Mr Streeter’s family home, a 13th century seven-bedroom farmhouse in Great Hallingbury, shakes so badly when planes take off that roof tiles are dislodged. “When we are sitting in the garden your coffee cup will wobble. The cargo planes are the worst.”   The airport is legally obliged to pay people living around it compensation because of the detrimental impact of the noise. Mr Streeter is now considering suing the airport .  A Stansted spokesman said: “We are aware of Mr Streeter’s application and the matter is being consulted by MAG (the airport’s owner).”

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Report by Mayor of London on runway issue: Boris pushes strongly for 4-runway hub in Thames estuary (or Stansted)

Boris Johnson, due to leave office as Mayor of London in early May, has delivered a blistering attack on a 3rd Heathrow runway – and put forward, again, his vision of a huge 4-runway hub airport in the inner Thames Estuary (“Boris Island”). The Airports Commission’s imperfect report came down definitively backing a Heathrow runway, and ruled out the estuary option for a range of geographical, cost and environmental reasons. Boris says, in a report entitled “Landing The Right Airport”, that a four-runway airport east of London is the only way to secure enough capacity. His other option is Stansted. He believes these sites “away from populated areas” were the “only credible solution”. Daniel Moylan, Boris’s aviation adviser, said the inner Thames estuary airport would cost £20bn to £25bn – with an extra £25bn required to building road and rail connections. He said the 3rd Heathrow runway is estimated to cost £18.6bn, not taking into account the cost of surface access and measures to stop congestion, which the new report claims could be as high as £20bn. The report concludes: “As part of its next phase of work, it is incumbent on Government to revisit the entire Airports Commission process and consider a full range of credible options – including alternative hub locations. A failure to do so will undermine any attempt to bring forward a National Policy Statement and leave a decision vulnerable to legal challenge.

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British Airways to fly from Stansted for the first time

9.2.2016 (Standard)

British Airways is to fly from four London airports for the first time. BA will launch holiday flights Stansted to the European sunshine resorts of Faro, Malaga, Palma and Ibiza from May 28th.  Stansted’s managing director Andrew Harrison called on the Government to support the airport’s growth to make use of its spare runway capacity before expansion of Heathrow or Gatwick can be delivered. The flights will be  operated on Saturdays and Sundays by BA’s subsidiary BA CityFlyer on Embraer 190 jets. These planes are based at London City Airport, but not used at weekends.  Mr Harrison wants government to “do everything it can to ensure that London Stansted is developed to its full potential over the next 10 years.”  MAG wants rail links to Stansted to be improved.

Uber scrap flat rate fares to London airports, but residents report problems with residential parking by drivers

Uber has announced it will stop offering flat rate fares to customers travelling to Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.  Uber used to offer a series of set fares for trips to the London airports, so customers know what to expect when going on their holidays and leisure trips. Uber fares to Heathrow from west London would start at £30, while passengers from south east London could get to Gatwick for £50.  Now the fares will be calculated on the time and distance, as they are for other Uber journeys. Customers can see from the phone app how much their trip will cost. Uber also announced that airport pick-ups will incur an additional surcharge, to cover minimum parking costs. However, there are a number of reports indicating that Uber cars are upsetting residents in areas near Heathrow, as large numbers park (for free) in residential roads, for hours, waiting for calls to pick up passengers. Waiting in streets with no facilities mean drivers have been reported urinating in gardens, or defecating near their cars. There have been complaints of groups of drivers appearing to be a threatening presence, being rude to residents, sleeping in their cars, and playing music into the night, while they wait.  Uber and Heathrow are meant to be trying to sort out the problems. Problems are also reported in the Stansted area.

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CAA approves so-called “environmentally friendly” changes to Stansted Airport take-offs

November 26, 2015

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has approved changes to ensure aircraft departing from Stansted to the south-east will climb higher sooner – slightly reducing fuel burn and CO2 emissions. This is part of major airspace changes approved by the CAA, as part of the FAS (Future Airspace Strategy) which is set to modernise UK airspace by 2020. The Stansted plans, which are included in the LAMP (London Airspace Management Programme) phase 1A, were submitted to the CAA by NATS, and followed a public consultation between October 2013 and January 2014. The FAS is the UK part of the wider European changes, under SESAR (Single European Sky), which hopes to improve airspace infrastructure to make its management more efficient, reduce fuel burn. It would also, by faster climbs and continuous descent approaches, slightly reduce the amount of aircraft noise for those over-flown. The aim, however, is it maximise use of airspace, enable more planes to fly in the same airspace, and save the airline industry time and therefore money. The Stansted route change approved is for more departures to go via Clacton to a point off the north-east corner of Kent (over the sea).

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Lord Alan Sugar: Expand Stansted Airport instead of Heathrow

14 October 2015
Stansted Airport should be expanded instead of Heathrow, Lord Alan Sugar has suggested. The non-affiliated peer, who quit Labour earlier this year, used a Lords question session to press the case for the airport. Addressing Transport Minister Lord Spicer, Lord Sugar said: “Can you remind the House as to why expansion of Stansted Airport was aborted? It has tremendous capacity and also very good connectivity with the centre of town?” Lord Spicer said: “Stansted like other airports around the country are an important part of UK Plc’s airport offering.

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Owner of Manchester and Stansted airports, MAG, unsurprisingly wants airport growth outside the south-east

The Manchester Airports Group (MAG) which owns/runs Manchester, Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports) says a new strategy is needed to promote local airports rather than investing in a megahub in the south-east. MAG wants a nationwide network of competing airports rather than investing all energies — and taxpayer funding — in an even larger airport in the south-east. While Heathrow claims it would provide a significant net benefit to northern England, allegedly “with the creation of up to 26,400 manufacturing jobs”, the Airports Commission’s own figures show negative impacts of a 3rd Heathrow runway on the UK’s regional airports. MAG believes that the expansion of local airports would provide a greater boost to the nation, and provide “an important catalyst for rebalancing UK plc.” So unsurprisingly Heathrow and MAG are both speaking from a position of self interest. While the Airports Commission ended up, misguidedly, just looking at whether they should be a runway at Heathrow or Gatwick, the main question of whether there should be a new runway in the south east at all still needs a convincing answer. MAG believes there is more likelihood of a successful “Northern Powerhouse” if northern airports get successful long haul routes, rather than Heathrow.

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Stansted Airport announces consultation on concentrating departure routes – ends 27th November

Stansted Airport has launched a public consultation on a new take-off procedure that the airport says will “reduce aircraft noise for more than 4,000 people living near the airport.” The new performance based navigation procedure (PBN) uses GPS technology that enables aircraft to fly flight paths more accurately. [This means more concentrated, narrow flight paths – so a smaller number of people are over-flown, but they get far more planes . The effect has been, at other airports, to make the noise intolerable for a minority of people, whose health and quality of life can be adversely affected. The airlines and the airports like the PBN system, as it can lead to fuel savings and therefore greater profits. However, this can be at the expense of those adversely affected under the newly narrowed flight routes]. Stansted says results from a trial on two of the airport’s existing departure routes showed that 85% fewer people were directly overflown by aircraft using the new procedure. [ie. concentrated, narrow flight paths]. The airport has to consult, before submitting the changes to the CAA for approval. Stansted hopes it will not get too much negative feedback. Unless there is a considerable level of public opposition, the flight path changes will become permanent.

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Stansted and Manchester airports growing rapidly, with huge spare capacity

Manchester Airports Group (MAG), owners of Stansted and Manchester airports, have announced “unrivalled growth” last year in its annual results. Stansted is hopeful that it can grow significantly in coming years, from the strength of its region and catchment area. The number of passengers at Manchester airport rose last year (to 31st March) by 7.2% to 22.3 million in the year to March 31, the number at Stansted rose by 16.1%. MAG revenue increased by 10% to £738.4m and operating profits by more than 30% to £153.6m. The proportion of business passengers at Stansted was reported to have risen by 20%. (It was 14.2% of passengers in 2013). MAG says when it bought Stansted from BAA at the start of 2013, the estimated gross value added to the local economy was £750m – it is now estimated to be more than £1 billion. Stansted wants better train services with both a faster railway and one that has more resilience. Stansted has runway capacity to double its current number of passengers, to 35 million per year, and its CEO has been working to try to get more long haul flights. Previous flights to the USA have not been profitable. MAG will continue its investment in Stansted facilities beyond the current £265 million programme which is 50% complete.

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Stansted to have summer only flights to Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas (competing with Gatwick)

At present, Stansted doesn’t have flights to the profitable destinations of Orlando, Cancun and Las Vegas. Most people going to Orlando in Florida go from Gatwick, with Manchester as the 2nd largest route. Almost everyone going to Cancun from the UK goes from Gatwick. Most people going to Las Vegas go from Gatwick, with Heathrow in second place, and Manchester third. But now Stansted is planning flights by Thomas Cook to those three cities, just over a month this summer and next summer. Passengers to those three destinations make up about 3.6% of all Gatwick passengers. Passengers to Las Vegas from Heathrow only make up about 0.3% of total passengers. Manchester (same owners as Stansted) already has flights to Orlando and Las Vegas.

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Stansted airport night flight warning after Davies Commission recommends third Heathrow runway

The MP for Saffron Walden, Sir Alan Haselhurst, says the banning of night flights at Heathrow, suggested by the Davies Commission which has recommended a third runway at Heathrow rather than a second one at Gatwick (or at Stansted) could still have “sinister” implications for Stansted. The Commission considers Stansted is likely to be full in 15 years, with one runway. The Commission is suggesting one of the conditions on a Heathrow north-west runway is that there should be no night flights at Heathrow. Sir Alan commented: “That has sinister implications. If they are not there, they will have to go somewhere. I don’t want to see the transfer of night flights to Stansted….We have the likes of FedEx and UPS. They are a very important industry. You can have a package from across the world delivered by 10am the following morning but that involves flights at unsocial hours. The dominant players at Stansted are RyanAir and EasyJet and the reason they can offer cheap flights is that they have continuous usage. Planes don’t make money while they are standing on the ground.” Hence the night flights at Stansted. And also at Gatwick, Unintended consequences?

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Boris Calls For Stansted Expansion


The Mayor London has renewed calls for a second runway at Stansted Airport to help alleviate the UK’s air capacity problems. Boris Johnson says expansion at there should be reconsidered as it is a better option than Heathrow. He said: “You should see the map of the extra noise over London that will be produced by a third runway, you should see the modelling that TfL have done on the traffic impacts of vehicular pollution. “One of the things that interests me about Crossrail Two (which will see trains run from Shenfield to Maidenhead, in Berkshire) is that it does open up the possibilities of Stansted. “The Airports Commission under Howard Davies was very precipitate in ruling expansion at Stansted and other options will have to come back into play at some stage.” Expansion at Stansted has already been rejected by the Davies Commission into Airport Capacity.


Stop Stansted Expansion calls for cross-party support at the election, to end night flights

Ahead of the general election and local council elections on 7th May, SSE is calling upon all local candidates to support a ban on night flights at Stansted. Stansted currently has permission to operate 12,000 night flights a year, between 11.30pm – 6am, more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow. [Heathrow is restricted to 5,800 night take-offs & landings /year between 11.30pm- 6am]. SSE has long argued to the Government that night flights have a far greater impact on local residents around Stansted because of its rural location where background noise levels are generally very low. The number of Stansted night flights has significantly increased over the past year, and this is believed to be largely due to the closure of Manston Airport and transfer of its cargo flights. SSE says “night” should not only be a 6½ hour period, but should be the 8 hours between 11.00pm to 7.00am, to give people a proper night’s rest. There are no restrictions on the number of aircraft permitted to take-off and land at Stansted during the so-called shoulder periods between 11.00pm and 11.30pm and between 6.00am and 7.00am. SSE is inviting politicians of all parties to support a timetable to progressively phase out nights flight

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Boris wants Network Rail to work on improved rail link between London and Stansted

Boris Johnson has told Network Rail that it should fast-track upgrades of the rail line between London and Stansted and Cambridge, which he says are of national importance. In autumn 2014 Network Rail put forward a 30-year plan for the rail links in the East Anglian region, but an upgrade of the line to Stansted was not included. It was just mentioned as part of a wish list out to beyond 2040. Part of the investigation by the Airports Commission has been looking at how current airport capacity could be used better, including improvement of rail links – and the Stansted line was included. Sir Howard Davies has said Network Rail’s plans for the track to Stansted were not ambitious enough. Boris wants a four-track solution, to get fast trains between London and Stansted taking just over 20 minutes, which is under half the present journey time. Boris says the 4-track line would be of national importance, and a precursor to Crossrail 2, which is planned to run underground from south west to north east of London, and be built by 2030. Boris says good rail lines from north east London need to be in place before Crossrail 2 is finished. He wants the preparatory works for the Stansted line to be in Network Rail’s present 5-year plan up to 2019.

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London leads as the world’s top airline hub by a wide margin – by number of passengers through its 5 airports

Simon Calder, writing in the Independent, says that “far from Britain declining as an aviation superpower, the capital’s global lead over every other city in the world is increasing.” Despite Heathrow being close the largest number of flights, London remains the world’s top airline hub by a wide margin (23%) – and is racing ahead of its closest rival, New York. There were a record number of air passengers using the 5 London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City airport) in 2014, and that was about 61% of all UK air passengers (same % as in 2013). Some 144.7 million passengers flew through London’s 5 commercial airports last year, which is the equivalent of 275 people – or one wide-bodied aircraft – arriving or departing every minute of every day of the year. Heathrow’s number of passengers in 2014 rose 1.7% due to using larger aircraft, and the number of passengers using the 5 London airports rose 5% in 2014 compared to 2013. While London is by far the best connected city in the world, New York comes 2nd, Tokyo 3rd and Paris the only other European city in the top 10. The pre-eminence of London indicates that the UK economy is not losing out due to any lack of airport capacity. London comfortably leads world cities, for airport capacity.

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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.

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Stop Stansted Expansion celebrates 10th anniversary of its wood at Broxted – where BAA wanted 2nd runway

Ten years ago, more than 130 Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) supporters took part in a mass tree planting to create the SSE Wood at Broxted Hill Farm, on the very site where BAA was planning to put down a 2nd runway. This wood was planted as a symbol of SSE’s defiant determination that BAA’s runway would never be built. The trees, all native species, were sponsored by some 700 supporters. On Sunday, 30 November 2014, to mark the tenth anniversary of the wood, SSE held another working party and also planted a tenth anniversary tree. Peter Sanders, SSE’s Chairman, said: “At the time when it was first planted the Government of the day was predicting that a 2nd runway would be operational at Stansted by 2010. It is wonderful to see how the wood has flourished, and how the plans for a 2nd runway have so far been thwarted.” Terry Waite commented: “We stand firmly against ruthless commercial exploitation which fails to take into account the wishes of local people and spoils a part of the countryside forever.”

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Stansted Parish Council’s concerns over airport’s development plan including fears about land grabbing

Stansted’s draft “Sustainable Development Plan” says it hopes to increase Stansted’s passengers from the current 18 million, up to their legal limit of 35 million, and then up to 40 – 45 million per year, on the existing runway. Stansted Parish Council has now commented, unflatteringly, about the plan. They fear growth will inevitably be to the detriment of their villagers and said: “MAG claim their plan to develop Stansted Airport is sustainable and, seen from their narrow perspective, that may well be the case. However, viewed from the broader standpoint of the local community, it most certainly is not. … All [the extra 25 – 30 million passengers per year] will be competing with local communities for use of the same finite infrastructure resources; for example, road, rail, water etc. Without substantial investment, these resources will begin to degrade and ultimately fail. …… it is clear that [MAG] do not consider they have any responsibility for maintaining or investing in such resources.” And “As far as [MAG] are concerned these are matters for local and national government and it is for the taxpayer to pick up the bill. ” The parish wants a tax on airport operators to pay for the infrastructure, on which they depend.

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NATS proposes more low flying Stansted planes over north Essex & SSE will keep fighting changes to departure routes

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) will keep fighting planned changes to the airport’s departure flight paths. NATS first proposed changes to Stansted flight paths in June, but SSE say there must be clear and compelling benefits for local residents before any shift is implemented. NATS plans to route about 50 more outbound planes per day along a flightpath towards Clacton to avoid congestion in the skies over London. NATS received over 400 responses to its recent airspace consultation; about 82% objected to the proposed changes. NATS has now published its Feedback Report claiming that “the package of net operational and environmental benefits presents a compelling case for change”. The changes help NATS meet its targets for flight efficiency, which give more priority to cutting fuel burn and CO2 emissions than cutting noise for those overflown. The planes are unlikely to reach 7,000ft until around Kelvedon, and between 4,000 and 7,000 feet, there has to be a trade-off between cutting noise and cutting fuel burn. Hence consultation. NATS has submitted its Airspace Change Proposal to the CAA and if approved the change would come into effect in December 2015.

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Stansted airport claim “66% cut in net carbon footprint” this year – they are buying biomass-generated electricity from Drax

Stansted airport has produced its “Sustainability Report” for 2013. It announces the remarkable claim that: “Our net carbon footprint for 2013/14 was 9,940 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions – a reduction of 66% compared to 2012/13.” It does not specify what a “net” carbon footprint is though. Unfortunately the format of the 2013 Sustainability Report and the format of earlier years makes comparison impossible. However, the claim of a 66% cut – written to imply a cut in the carbon footprint of the whole airport – is only referring to its use of electricity. The press release says: “… 66% reduction in the carbon footprint achieved by moving the airport onto MAG’s group contract for purchasing low carbon electricity, which is generated using only biomass such as wood and straw rather than coal.” It turns out that MAG has a contract with Haven Energy, that is part of Drax, which is turning its generators from burning coal to burning biomass, in the form of wood pellets from forest in the southern USA, doing considerable environmental harm. While Drax claims its biomass electricity has 80% less CO2 than coal, some consider it to produce more, not less. That 66% claim is highly dubious …

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LibDems vote against new runways in south east, keeping existing policy. NO to new Gatwick /Stansted runway.

The LibDem conference has voted against an amendment, by Lorely Burt (Solihull) and Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay), to reverse Lib Dem policy of no new net runways. Party policy remains opposed to a new SE runway. The amendment proposed continuing opposition to Heathrow, but backing Gatwick expansion (Gatwick helped with conference expenses – and lobbied relentlessly). It was supported by Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, Vince Cable, Ed Davey and Susan Kramer. However, no cabinet minister spoke in favour of it during the debate. Ed Davey and others made rather poorly informed comments about aviation becoming “cleaner and quieter” in future, meaning a new runway could be built without breaching environmental limits. “According to one party source, Clegg was also worried about going through an election campaign saying the Lib Dems would block a new runway, only for it to be agreed by parliament soon after the election.” LibDems will not back a new runway if in coalition after 2015. Julian Huppert played a central role in defeating the amendment.  Caroline Pidgeon spoke strongly against it, and tweeted that “softening on airports is bad for environment, for London and for the LibDems‘ credibility.” What this does to voters’ faith in LibDems not selling out to big business, at the expense of the environment, in future is not clear

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Stansted publishes consultation on draft plan for future development, staying a one runway airport

Stansted Airport has published its draft Sustainable Development Plan (SDP), for consultation until 7th November. The plan sets out the airport’s ambition to grow (it is always thus in this industry – perpetual growth….) But at least the airport is not planning on a second runway. It anticipates getting up to 45 million passengers per year on one runway, while it had about 17.8 million passengers in 2013, and has planning permission for up to 35 million. The timing of the consultation is apt, being the same day as the Airports Commission rejected an estuary airport. Stansted says its “important role has already been recognised by the Airports Commission, and the plan will help inform its final recommendations to Government on the vital contribution that Stansted’s existing capacity will make to meeting demand over the next 10-15 years.” Local group, SSE (Stop Stansted Expansion) commented on the SDP that they welcomed the plan being only for a single runway airport; they want a gradual phasing out of night flights; and they want the approximately 270 properties near the airport, bought by BAA, to be returned to private ownership.

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NATS retains air traffic control with MAG for 10 years. Also 2 more years at Luton. Lost Gatwick in July

NATS has signed a 10-year deal with Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to provide air traffic control and engineering services at Manchester and Stansted airports, both owned by MAG. By number of passengers, they are the 3rd and 4th largest in the UK. The contract starts on April 1, 2015. MAG hopes both Manchester & Stansted will be growing rapidly. Earlier in August it was announced that NATS had signed an agreement with Luton Airport (the 5th largest in the UK) to extend the current contract for air traffic provision by two years, so it now ends in November 2017. This was agreed after a competitive tendering process. “NATS will also continue to provide approach services as part of its management of the London Terminal Manoeuvring Area, one of the most complex and busiest areas of airspace in the world.” NATS also hopes to make money out of its growth in air traffic, which is plans to increase to 18 million passengers per year by 2031. NATS makes more money the larger the number of planes using the airports it works for, and en route using any UK airspace. NATS lost the contact for Gatwick to German rival, DFS in July

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Stop Stansted Expansion supports call to take part in flight path consultation, and says changes should be postponed

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) welcomes NATS’ call to local residents to have their say and respond to the proposed transfer of traffic on departure routes from Stansted Airport. The proposed change involves switching daytime traffic from the existing south-east (Dover) departure route to the existing east (Clacton) route (see map). The consultation closes on 8th September. Traffic on the Clacton route would double if this proposal were implemented. NATS’ own figures show 1,470 fewer people would be overflown, but 2,400 people would be overflown more intensively. NATS says that the driver for change is network performance and to avoid Heathrow traffic congestion. SSE says significant changes to Stansted’s airspace are likely to come in the next airspace review phase scheduled for 2018/19. If there is a new south east runway, that will mean significant redesign of Stansted routes in future. Therefore SSE says there must be clear and compelling benefits for local residents before any changes are implemented. They recommend that NATS’ proposed changes should be postponed until the airspace redesign planned for 2018/19.

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Restrictions on UK ‘night flights’ at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted extended until 2017

In the Government’s response to the Airports Commission’s December 2013 interim report, Patrick McLoughlin announced that plans to more than double the number of ‘night flights’ at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports have been postponed until 2017. Under proposals outlined in the Commission’s interim report the number of planes allowed to land at the airport before 6am each day would have increased from 16 to 35 from 2015. The government now says it wants to ensure “regulatory stability” at south east airports while the Commission makes its final recommendations on which airport should be recommended to be allowed to build a new runway. The government is also extending the ban on “rare movements made by older noisier types of aircraft.” McLoughlin said: “This decision will help give certainty around the night noise environment for those living near the airports, as well as ensuring operational capacity at these airports is not affected pending decisions on any new airport capacity in light of the commission’s final report.” The government has also postponed the Commission’s recommendation for an Independent Aviation Noise Authority.

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Plan to redirect Stansted Airport departures to reduce Heathrow congestion

Air traffic control service NATS proposes to redirect the majority of Stansted departures from an established southerly route, to an existing route to the east of the airport. “At the moment, departures from Stansted heading towards the South East are kept lower for longer when compared to the route heading east because of Heathrow arrivals.” The changes would only affect daytime departures. This is to reduce congestion above Heathrow. Arrivals are not affected. NATS has started a 12-week consultation on the proposals. Martin Peachey, noise advisor for Stop Stansted Expansion campaign group said: “We basically support the proposal because NATS say it should reduce the amount of people flown in the day and reduce CO2 emissions. It would remove day time departures for a large area to the south but it would double the amount of flights to the east so that would need to be carefully studied. …. There will be winners and losers.” The changes are part of the NATS’ London Airspace Management Programme (LAMP).

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Stansted Managing Director tells London that Stansted is “solution” to aviation capacity demand

March 29, 2014

Stansted boss, Andrew Harrison, says the airport can meet London’s growing aviation needs over the next 15 years. He was speaking at the inaugural London Infrastructure Summit on March 27th. He said Stansted could more than double the amount of flights it handles and that improving rail links into London would be key to unlocking its full potential. The Summit focused on the importance of infrastructure to London’s overall competitiveness. Andrew Harrison said Stansted has the infrastructure and planning permission to handle 35 million passengers (up from 17.8 million in 2013) per year, and the ability to handle a further 10 million passengers beyond that. That is around the capacity of one runway, fully used, especially with larger planes than at present. Stansted intends to “grasp the opportunity” in the period before any new runway (if one is ever agreed) could be built, to “make the best possible use of Stansted.” Some rail improvements, which could be implemented quickly, might cut the train journey time to London by 10 minutes.      Click here to view full story…


SSE asks Michael O’Leary what exactly he means by a “new” route….

March 24, 2014

Stop Stansted Expansion are asking Michael O’Leary some questions about the dubious publicity that Ryanair puts out, repeatedly, about its new flights and destinations – for destinations to which it already flies. Ryanair routinely publicises “new” routes time after time. The “new” routes to Bordeaux and Rabat have been announced three times so far – in Ryanair press releases in September 2013, February 2014 and March 2014. SSE asks Mr O’Leary “What exactly do you mean by new?” In conjunction with the claims of new routes, Ryanair puts out statements about how many jobs it is creating. It claims its ‘new’ routes will generate an extra 2 million passengers and create an extra 2,000 jobs at Stansted. That would mean 1,000 jobs created for every million Ryanair passengers. According to Ryanair’s latest annual report the airline employed 114 staff for every million passengers carried. That would mean 228 jobs for an extra 2 million passengers. So SSE’s question to Mr O’Leary is “Where do the other 1,772 Stansted jobs come from?” Baggage handlers?

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“Fly Stansted” campaign to boost its passenger numbers due to its ‘unrivalled’ European network

February 12, 2014

Stansted airport has a new campaign it is calling “Fly Stansted.” It hopes to raise awareness of its large number of routes to European destinations – which it says it more than any other UK airport. Stansted says it has more than 150 direct scheduled connections available on its route network. Extended across Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and key areas of London, Stansted’s promotion campaign highlight s its good record on flight delays. Stansted also – now owned tthe Manchester Airports Group – has a project under way to improve the terminal building and its shops. at London’s third busiest airport. Andrew Harrison, airport managing director, said: ‘We know that 46 million air journeys are made each year by passengers living in the area around Stansted but only 12 million of those flights are taken from the airport itself.” Stansted flights are mainly to holiday destinations, by low cost carriers. Stansted used to have the 3rd highest passenger numbers of UK airports, but has been passed by Manchester in recent years. 2013 was the first year since 2007 when its number of air passengers has not fallen.   Click here to view full story…


Stop Stansted Expansion calls for reduction and phasing out of Stansted’s night flights

February 3, 2014

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has made a detailed submission to the DfT consultation on night flights, calling for Government action to end the scourge of these flights. The government consultation proposes that Stansted should continue to be allowed 12,000 flights a year between 11.30pm and 6.00am. This is more than twice as many as are permitted at Heathrow and far more than are needed. The 12,000 cap was set in 2006, when Stansted was still expanding rapidly, and a 2nd runway was planned. However, today Stansted is handling 30% less traffic than in 2006. Logically allowing Stansted 12,000 night flights a year can no longer be justified. SSE argues that those living under Stansted’s flight paths should have the right to an uninterrupted night’s sleep, ie. a full 8 hours and not just the 6½ hours covered by the current restrictions. Stansted handled just over 8,500 night flights last year – well below the Government limit of 12,000. SSE is pressing for the limit to be cut to 7,500 night flights from October 2014 and then further reduced by 500 flights each year until night flights are totally phased out. The recent announcement by British Airways that it pulling the plug on its cargo operations at Stansted means that reducing the number of permitted night flights at Stansted from 12,000 to 7,500 should now be easily achievable.      Click here to view full story…


Ryanair to target business travellers in 2014 – to doubt it has the right network of business destinations

January 23, 2014

Ryanair has announced plans to target business travellers in 2014, with a new “business product” coming in the next few weeks, and the appointment of a dedicated sales leader. They will be adding a new section to their website for groups and corporate travellers, and will offer them flexible tickets, reserved seating and fast-track through selected airports. Ryanair hopes to muscle into this market, offering lower charges to those travelling on business. However, critics in the field of buying business travel say Ryanair must start flying to more business destinations if they’re going to make a “serious dent” in the corporate travel market. At present Ryanair is at a disadvantage because from London it only operates out of Stansted and does not fly to many business destinations. There are not many frequent UK business travellers who will fly from Stansted. Until Ryanair have good networks and business destinations, they are unlikely to make a serious dent in the corporate market. Ryanair has copied easyJet, which got the idea of getting into business travel first. They have been “getting rather jealous” of it. However, a commentator experienced in buying business travel commented that easyJet now have a “good business product, especially with the adding of new routes to Brussels, Paris and Moscow.” Ryanair will have a struggle to catch up.   Click here to view full story…


CAA decides on no further price regulation at Stansted, but only RPI -1.5% charges at Heathrow and more controls on Gatwick

January 11, 2014

The CAA has published its final decisions on economic regulation at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted after April 2014. They say the new situation, with each airport having a different owner, reflects the unique circumstances of individual airports. Considering the market power of each airport means passengers would not benefit from further regulation of Stansted, but that Heathrow and Gatwick will both need further airport licences from April 2014 onwards. Current landing charges are £20.71 per passenger at Heathrow and £8.80 (2014 prices) at Gatwick. CAA says: “At Heathrow, the CAA’s price control decision will see prices fall in real terms by 1.5% per year between 2014 and 2019 (RPI-1.5%). This has changed from the CAA’s Final Proposals published in October, which suggested prices rising in line with inflation. The changes have been made as passenger traffic forecasts have strengthened since October, and the cost of capital has been revised. The CAA supports more diversity in what Gatwick offers to its various airlines, so passengers receive a tailored service. It has therefore based regulation on the airport operator’s own commitments to its airline customers.” Heathrow is deeply displeased. Gatwick is mildly displeased. Stansted is happy. Ryanair’s share value fell.  Click here to view full story…


Simon Calder: “Transit traffic and the airport problem” – transfer, hub, point-to-point ?

January 10, 2014

Simon Calder gives some insights into how airlines manage transit passengers,and “Origin & Destination” (O&D) passengers – which is at the heart of the hub / point-to-point airport question that will be influential in the Airports Commission recommendations. Heathrow and BA want a larger hub at Heathrow, so they can lay on more flights to more destinations, with higher load factors and hence more profit – by sucking in transit passengers. However, many passengers prefer to pay a bit more and fly direct, without a transit. Calder says what BA wants is for every seat on every flight from Heathrow to its long haul destinations would be filled, by people starting their journey in London ….. BA has little trouble filling the plane with O&D passengers on some days, but on others the demand simply isn’t there. BA’s extensive network allows it to turn transit traffic on and off like a tap, putting lots of tempting fares into the market when loads are light – or raising them. Hence fares vary hugely day to day. Calder says the biggest threat to Heathrow is now coming from Istanbul, to where direct flights using smaller 737s can connect from many UK regional airports, for onward transfers. Heathrow says a 2nd Gatwick runway would dilute transit traffic at Heathrow, making many BA routes unviable.    Click here to view full story…


Stansted campaigners heave a huge sigh of relief – but it’s not over yet ….

December 17, 2013

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has expressed huge relief that Stansted has not been short-listed by the Airports Commission as a potential location for an additional runway or runways to meet future aviation demand in the South East. SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: “This is exactly the outcome that the entire SSE team has been working so hard to achieve all year…. The environmental consequences of even one extra runway would have been catastrophic and there has never been a viable business case for any extra runways at Stansted.” Stansted is currently operating at less than half of its potential capacity. In addition, it has no long haul flights and it primarily caters for outbound leisure travel by UK residents rather than the business market, and low-cost carriers Ryanair and easyJet account for over 90% of its passengers. Unfortunately, the Airports Commission has not completely ruled out an extra runway at Stansted. They have said that its final report in 2015 it will consider whether a 2nd Stansted runway might be a plausible option in the 2040s. “It will therefore be another 2 years before we can even think of letting our guard down.”    Click here to view full story…


Stansted airport owners would question the integrity of Airports Commission if Stansted not on the shortlist

December 15, 2013

The Sunday Times says that the owners of Stansted airport, the Manchester Airports Group, are concerned by the leaks that have circulated in the past week, that a runway at Stansted is not on the short list. The Sunday Times says MAG will demand a full analysis of how the Airports Commission came to their decision, how independent the process has been, and they will want to see all the methodology of how the decision was reached. They would question the integrity of the process, if only Heathrow is selected as the runway location. MAG claim a new Stansted runway could be built for £4 billion, while a new Heathrow runway would cost £14 – 18 billion. Meanwhile, Stansted’s owners are just working to build its passenger numbers back to where they were 7 years ago. With the airport currently operating at only half its permitted capacity a 2nd runway is not commercially viable, and it would be completely unacceptable to local communities on environmental grounds. This challenge by MAG is strangely ironic considering the legal challenge by Stop Stansted Expansion, against the Commission, due to potential bias because of the involvement of MAG’s Geoff Muirhead in the process.     Click here to view full story…


Stansted launches consultation with leading businesses to help attract long-haul carriers

December 5, 2013

While in 2012 over 92% of Stansted’s passengers were travelling to or from the EU, and only a bit of 7% were to other countries, the airport’s management say they are keen to develop more long haul routes. They are calling on more than 300 businesses from across the East of England to work together to help attract direct long-haul services to the airport.The aim is to demonstrate to airlines that don’t currently use the airport that there is demand for more long haul business destinations from Stansted (apart from the huge majority of leisure trips – which are about 85% of Stansted’s passengers). The study will focus on companies that use long-haul air links but which currently have to travel from other London airports. Stansted says more than 46 million journeys are made each year by people living within Stansted’s catchment area, but only 12m of those flights are actually from the airport itself. Of the remaining 34 million flights, around 6 million involving flying long-haul to and from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Australasia, and 4.6 m passengers take flights to and from North America. Andrew Harrison, MD of Stansted wants to “make long-haul destinations a reality from Stansted.”     Click here to view full story.


Stop Stansted Expansion comment on the failure of their bias challenge against Airports Commission in the High Court

December 2, 2013

High Court Judge Mrs Justice Patterson has issued her ruling on the challenge brought by SSE arising from the role played by Mr Geoff Muirhead as a Commissioner on the Airports Commission. She agreed it was right for him to step down from the Commission as soon as it became known that his former employer, MAG, the owners of Stansted Airport, would be submitting proposals for extra runways there. But she ruled against SSE in deciding that no previous harm could have been done by Mr Muirhead, in terms of bias, during his involvement with the Commission from 2.11.2012 until his resignation on 20.9.2013 – which happened only after SSE had instructed its lawyers to commence legal proceedings. She did say that it could not be regarded “as the most wise” for him to remain on the Commission for so long. SSE still has some concerns about the integrity of the process going forward. SSE say that because there is so much at stake and the position is still not entirely satisfactory, they will be considering the ruling and whether aspects need to be taken to the Court of Appeal.     Click here to view full story…


SSE challenges Airports Commission at the High Court on “apparent bias” due to involvement of Geoff Muirhead

November 22, 2013        Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has launched a High Court bid to force the Airports Commission to revise its work on the future of aviation expansion in the UK. SSE’s case, asking that the Airports Commission should re-determine its so-called “sift criteria” for assessing growth options, was heard by Mrs Justice Patterson. SSE claims that the sift criteria process was infected by apparent bias because Geoff Muirhead, then still a member of the Commission, had worked as Chief Executive for – and continued to work for – MAG. The sift criteria will ultimately guide the Commission in its final decision on where any new runways in the UK should be built. SSE’s barrister, Paul Stinchcombe QC, argued that Mr Muirhead’s resignation was too late to save the sift criteria proceedings and that his involvement had tainted and was continuing to taint the activities and decisions of the commission by reason of apparent bias. The DfT said “there is no evidence whatsoever of bias and the Airports Commission is content that decisions taken to date are robust.” The Commission said its processes to date were “appropriate and robust”. Mrs Justice Patterson said she will make a decision on the matter in writing at a later date.     Click here to view full story…


Stop Stansted Expansion welcomes call for an independent noise watchdog

November 19, 2013       SSE welcomes the call by London First for an independent noise ombudsman to protect people living near airports and under flight paths from aircraft noise. London Firstsuggests the ombudsman should have a range of powers including the ability to fine airlines that break noise limits. It believes this would help address the lack of trust and transparency between those pressing for airport expansion and local communities. SSE agrees with London First on these points. SSE has been calling for an independent noise watchdog since 2006 and has repeatedly been pressing the DfT, the CAA and MPs, to introduce independent oversight of aircraft noise and the other environmental impacts of airports on local communities. That would be preferable to the current situation where airport operators are themselves responsible for monitoring and reporting on the environmental impacts of their own operations, acting as judge, jury and policeman. It is not therefore surprising that there is so much mistrust amongst local communities in relation to the fairness and transparency of the current arrangements.      Click here to view full story..


Stop Stansted Expansion challenge to Airports Commission on apparent bias going to High Court on Friday 22nd Nov

Date added: November 18, 2013

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) will go to the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday 22 November to present its case that a key element of the work carried out by the Airports Commission has been tainted by apparent bias and needs to be done afresh. SSE’s legal challenge stems from the involvement of Geoff Muirhead, who was appointed to the Airports Commission. He had retired as MAG’s chief executive in October 2010 after 22 years with the Group but he was then immediately appointed as their highly paid ambassador, a role he continued to fulfil even after he was appointed to the Commission. Mr Muirhead resigned from the Commission on 20 September 2013, shortly after SSE began its legal challenge. He was directly involved in determining the Commission’s ‘sift criteria’ for deciding the most suitable airport expansion options and SSE believes that these are clearly skewed to favour expansion at Stansted. SSE will be asking the High Court to order the Commission to re-determine the ‘sift criteria’ and to delay the publication of any short-list of options until the sift criteria have been re-determined.     Click here to view full story…


Government to make no significant change to night flights regime at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted until Airports Commission report

November 11, 2013           In January 2013 the DfT put out the first part of its consultation on the night flight regime at the UK’s 3 designated airports,Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The DfT said then that the 2nd consultation would be publishes later this year, to include specific proposals for the new regime, such as the number of permitted night flights – informed by the evidence from the first consultation. The DfT has now published this 2nd stage, but instead of any specific measures, it proposes no significant change to the night flight regime at Heathrow until 2017. It says it does not want to pre-empt the findings of the Airports Commission which is due to publish its final report in summer 2015. The current night flight regime for the 3 airports ends in October 2014. Normally a new regime is put in place to cover the next 5 – 6 years. This time the Government has decided in effect to roll-over the existing regime until 2017. The only change for Heathrow is a proposal “to extend the operational ban on the noisiest types of aircraft to include an extra half hour, the 23.00-23.30 period.            Click here to view full story…


Stop Stansted Expansion lodged papers at High Court alleging Airports Commission criteria “infected by apparent bias” due to Geoff Muirhead

October 15, 2013       The Stop Stansted Expansion group (SSE) have lodged papers at the Royal Courts of Justice alleging that the criteria being applied to decide on possible options for new runway sites in England are “infected by apparent bias”. SSE want High Court judges to order the Government-appointed Airports Commission to delay the publication of any shortlist of options until the “sift criteria” have been re-determined. They argue that there was apparent bias because Geoff Muirhead, a recently-resigned member of the Commission, had a conflict of interest. Mr Muirhead is a former chief executive of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the owners of Stansted since February. He stepped down from the Commission three weeks ago after SSE warned Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin they would take legal action if he stayed. “For almost a year, Mr Muirhead was allowed to play a pivotal role on the Commission.” The High Court is being asked to order the Commission “to re-visit certain key decisions made by the Commission during the time that Mr Muirhead was involved”. Brian Ross, from SSE, said: “With proposals on the table from MAG to make Stansted the world’s busiest airport with four runways handling up to 160 million passengers a year, there is far too much at stake to allow the issue of apparent bias to go unchallenged.”         Click here to view full story…



Stop Stansted Expansion says of the Airports Commission: A tainted process – a dubious conclusion

October 9, 2013      Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) is disappointed that the Airports Commission has formed the preliminary view that extra runway capacity is needed in the south east of England. In his speech on 7th October 2013, the chairman of the Airports Commission, Sir Howard Davies said that his Commission had not been persuaded by the arguments against expansion. In SSE’s view, the arguments for more runway capacity in the south east are dangerously weak and they will be taking up Sir Howard’s invitation to comment on his preliminary conclusions. SSE believes the UK, as a whole, already has more than enough runway capacity to meet the DfT forecasts to 2050, and well beyond. Regarding the recent resignation of Geoff Muirhead from the Commission, due to ties with MAG, SSE said they are mounting a legal challenge on bias – due to Mr Muirhead’s influence – in formulating the “sift criteria” and there will be more information on that next week.     Click here to view full story…


Essex County Council warns against super-airport at Stansted

September 25, 2013          Essex County Council has warned the Airports Commission against proposals for an “unwanted and unviable” super-airport at Stansted. It has instead called for greater focus on realistic, affordable and practical options that will allow “sensible growth” in Essex. Earlier this summer, Stansted’s owner, MAG ageed with Boris Johnson that 4 runways at Stansted was one solution to the capacity issue – while stressing that making full use of the low-cost base’s 35 million passengers-a-year single-runway capacity is the priority. In a report published on 24th September ECC said that proposals like closing Heathrow and building 5-runway “super-hub airports”, either at Stansted or in the Thames Estuary, would be too costly and disruptive to deliver. Council leader Cllr David Finch said the UK does not have the time or the money to waste on impractical or undeliverable schemes that could suck up a sum of taxpayers’ money equivalent to twice the UK’s defence budget. Also that Stansted could double its passenger and freight numbers before anyone even thinks of the need for a 2nd runway.      Click here to view full story…


Geoff Muirhead steps down from his position at the Airports Commission

September 20, 2013     . Geoff Muirhead, who has been a commissioner at the Airports Commission, has agreed to step down. This comes in response to the challenge from Stop Stansted Expansion, due to Mr Muirhead’s previous work for the Manchester Airports Group, which now owns Stansted. Mr Muirhead continued to work for MAG in an advisory capacity even when he had accepted his role on the Commission. As MAG owns Stansted, which is one of the sites being seriously considered for expansion and a new runway, there is an obvious conflict of interest. Despite the claim that he was impartial, it has been clear all along that he is very pro-aviation. The problem now remains that Mr Muirhead has been with the Commission for almost a year, and his input may already have influenced the Commission. It will be necessary to establish to what extent the process may have been tainted by his involvement. SSE included this point in their pre action protocol letter that was sent to the Secretary of State for Transport, and Howard Davies in August.     . Click here to view full story…


FoI request reveals TfL has spent £1.4 million so far, with a budget of £3 million, on promoting Thames estuary airport (or Stansted)

September 20, 2013     . Figures from Transport for London (TfL) – obtained from a Freedom of Information request – show Boris Johnson has spent £1.4 million promoting the idea of a Thames Estuary airport. Some £1.2 million has gone to paying consultancy fees, for work such as looking at environmental impacts of an airport and the infrastructure that would need to be built. £15,000 was spent on hiring College Public Policy, a consultancy group, to help with TfL’s submission to the Airports Commission. In contrast, Medway Council budgeted £50,000 in 2012 to fight against the airport, although it is not clear how much of this was spent. Boris backs building the airport, which would be the world’s biggest airport, at Grain. This would have 4 runways and operate 24 hours a day. “Boris has been throwing away public money on his flight of fancy and it needs to stop” – Mark Reckless MP. TfL say in May 2011, £200,000 was set aside by TfL to consider the options for expanding the country’s aviation capacity. A further £3 million has been budgeted by TfL up until April 2014, of which there is around £1.7 million remaining.      .Click here to view full story…


Ryanair added 138 jobs per extra million passengers 2011 – 2013, but claim 1,000 jobs are created per additional million passengers

September 17, 2013    .Ryanair is putting out statements that in its deal with MAG at Stansted, to increase the number of Ryanair passengers by 50% over 10 years, that it will – allegedly – create 7,000 new jobs. This claim is based on an outdated, and very frequently trotted out, assumption that some 1,000 new jobs are created for each additional 1 million passengers flying on an airline. The full service airlines, flying a lot of first class passengers on long haul flights, have a high ratio of staff to passengers. The cheapest low cost flights, offered to European destinations by the no-frills airlines, do not. Recent figures from Ryanair’s annual reports, show that between 2011 and 2013, Ryanair had an extra 7.2 million passengers, but only 996 more staff. That works out as about 138 new Ryanair jobs per extra million passengers. Recent figures from EasyJet’s own data show that in 2012, for each additional million EasyJet passengers, there were 41 new EasyJet jobs. There will be some extra airport jobs, to support more flights – but the level is nowhere remotely near 1,000 per million. That figure is exaggerated at least 5-fold, or more. In reality Ryanair creates as few extra jobs as possible, because it shaves costs to the bone.    .Click here to view full story…



UK’s CAA postpones regulatory decision on Stansted airport

Sept 17, 2013 (Reuters)     .Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said on Tuesday it would defer making a judgement on how to regulate London’s Stansted airport in future following the airport’s new 10-year deal with Ryanair.   “Following the Ryanair deal and another agreement between (Stansted’s new owner) Manchester Airports Group Plc and easyJet announced earlier this year, the CAA will issue a consultation to invite stakeholders to submit representations on how these agreements may affect the market power assessment,” the regulator said in a statement.   The Civil Aviation Act 2012 sets a market power test as part of the process for periodically deciding whether a UK airport’s user charges need to be regulated in the future. The determination for Stansted was due to be published on October 3, along with the two other main London airports, Gatwick and Heathrow.  and link 


MAG / Ryanair 10 year growth agreement at Stansted to increase Ryanair passengers by 50% in 10 years

September 17, 2013

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and Ryanair have announced a new long-term growth agreement which will see Ryanair increase its number of passengers at Stansted from just over 13 million a year, to more than 18 million by 2018 and then to almost 21 million passengers a year by 2023. In return it wants lower costs and better facilities. MAG bought Stansted from BAA in February 2013. Ryanair is Stansted’s largest airline – with 140 + destinations during the past year; it has now announced 4 new Stansted routes for summer 2014. The new destinations – not currently served from Stansted – are Lisbon, Bordeaux, Dortmund and Rabat. MAG said they are confident Stansted can grow, though it has had consistently declining numbers of passengers for several years. MAG believes it can compete more effectively “to make the most of the airport’s untapped potential and spare capacity.” MAG says “Stansted has a really bright future in providing international connectivity for the UK” – (which broadly means more holiday destinations for cheap flights, taking more Brits to spend their money abroad.).   Click here to view full story…

Stansted campaigners urge Airports Commission to provide safeguards for communities against blight

September 11, 2013

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) is one of seven airport campaign groups who have joined forces in writing to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, calling upon him to safeguard local residents against airport-related blight. The Commission is due to produce an interim report at the end of this year and, if it concludes that the UK needs more airport capacity, it will publish a short-list of options. The Commission’s final report won’t be published until mid-2015, after the next general election and it will then be for the Government of the day to take any final decisions. During that time, and perhaps for longer, the areas selected will suffer blight, and great uncertainty. The last time that Stansted was short-listed for major expansion, in 2002, £570 million was wiped off local house prices in the first 18 months of the threat, affecting an area of about 150 square miles. There is now the prospect of history repeating itself. Those who are promoting airport expansion projects must take some responsibility for the consequences. They cannot simply be allowed to dine out for free on their airport expansion dreams, leaving local residents to pick up the tab.     . Click here to view full story…


SSE has served formal notice on the Secretary of State for Transport requiring the removal of Geoff Muirhead from Airports Commission

August 19, 2013       Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has served formal notice on the Secretary of State for Transport requiring the removal of Mr Geoff Muirhead from the Airports Commission on the grounds of apparent bias. This is the first formal legal step towards judicial review proceedings which will commence with an application to the High Court in early September if Mr Muirhead continues to serve on the Commission. Mr Muirhead is the former Chief Executive of the Manchester Airports Group (MAG) the company which now owns Stansted Airport, from which he retired in October 2010, after 22 years with the Group. After retiring, and even when he had been appointed to the Airports Commission, Mr Muirhead continued to work for MAG in a highly paid role until January 2013. He was paid £82,000 by MAG during the six months from October 2010 to March 2011 inclusive for acting as an ‘ambassador’ to the Group. As he has not voluntarily stood down, SSE is now seeking legal redress. SSE believes there is far too much at stake to allow Mr Muirhead’s role as a Commissioner to go unchallenged.      Click here to view full story…


Stop Stansted Expansion calls for resignation of Geoff Muirhead from Airports Commission due to bias

July 28, 2013      Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion SSE have highlighted the problem of a conflict of interest concerning Geoff Muirhead, who is a member of the government-appointed Airports Commission. Mr Muirhead retired as chief executive of MAG in 2010, and he represented MAG in an “ambassadorial role” until January 2013, several months after he was appointed to the Airports Commission. MAG bought Stansted from BAA in February 2013. Earlier this month MAG published options on where to build a second runway at Stansted and potentially even expand it into a four-runway hub. SSE are calling for Mr Muirhead’s resignation. SSE has written to Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the Commission and Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, warning it will mount a legal challenge if Mr Muirhead refuses to step down. The group claims in the letter, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, that there is an issue of “apparent bias”. The letter (26th July) says: “In the circumstances we consider it unacceptable for Mr Muirhead to continue to serve on the Airports Commission and the longer he continues to serve, the more the process risks being tainted.” SSE will start taking legal advice within 14 days if they receive no satisfactory commitment on the matter.      Click here to view full story…


23 July 2013

Uttlesford District Council backs ‘sensible’ growth at Stansted Airport

UTTLESFORD District Council is aiming to ground fears that Stansted could become a four-runway airport.Last week the Essex hub’s new owner MAG (Manchester Airports Group) agreed with Mayor of London Boris Johnson that such major expansion at the low-cost base was one solution to the UK’s aviation capacity issue – while stressing that fully utilising Stansted’s 35 million passengers-a-year capacity is the priority. Uttlesford agrees. Deputy leader Cllr Jackie Cheetham, who chairs the Stansted Airport Advisory Panel, said: “The council fully understands that many residents will be concerned at any talk of airport expansion in relation to Stansted. An overwhelming majority of them made it clear by referendum that they were opposed to the building of a second runway when the last Government was preparing a previous air transport policy.“


“Here we go again” – SSE slams opportunistic, irresponsible and pointless expansion proposals for Stansted

July 19, 2013    Proposals from the Manchester Airport Group (MAG) to develop Stansted into a 2-runway, or even a 4-runway, airport have been described by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) as “opportunistic, irresponsible and pointless”. SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: “It is of little consolation that MAG has framed its proposals in an unenthusiastic, half-hearted way which grudgingly admits that it would be ‘willing’ to add an extra runway or runways at Stansted, about 15 years from now, if that’s what the Airports Commission and the Government decide is best. This will be seen by many as an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for any decision to expand the airport.” The MAG proposals resurrect the expansion options for Stansted put forward by the Government in July 2002. These all came to nothing but it took an 8-year battle before BAA conceded defeat and withdrew its plans for a 2nd runway. Between 2002 to 2010 needless stress and anxiety was caused to those whose homes were threatened by the bulldozer and over a £1billion was wiped off local house prices – all for nothing. Now, just 3 years later, there is the prospect of another prolonged battle over the same issue.   Click here to view full story…


Owners of Stansted, MAG, submit their plans for a 2nd runway – or to become a 4-runway hub

July 19, 2013    MAG, the owner of Stansted, are submitting their proposals for a 2nd runway to the Airports Commission. They also believe it has the potential to become a UK future 4 runway hub airport. MAG argues that the airport offers the cheapest and least environmentally damaging location (quite how it could do that, on a countryside location is unclear) for a 4-runway airport and estimate that it would cost £10 billion, although no detailed plans have been drawn up. Local campaign group, Stop Stansted Expansion, said that the MAG proposals were reheating plans put forward back in 2002 that were withdrawn by BAA, the former owners, in 2010. SSE’s chairman said: “We really shouldn’t have to go through this whole argument again just three years after the last threat was lifted. We are profoundly disappointed that MAG has behaved in this opportunistic and irresponsible way. With the airport currently operating at only half its permitted capacity a 2nd runway – never mind a 4-runway hub double the size of Heathrow today – is completely unnecessary on business grounds and it would be completely unacceptable on environmental grounds.” MAG has to admit that it could serve almost double the current number of passengers, without any more infrastructure for some years.    Click here to view full story…


Transport Secretary launches £80 million Stansted terminal redevelopment

June 21, 2013     The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has launched the start of an £80 million project to re-develop Stansted’s terminal building. Stansted says the way passengers travel by air has changed over the last decade, as now the overwhelming majority of passengers check-in online and over half travel without checked-in baggage. The airport aims to “improve the passenger journey.” There will be new security facilities and an enlarged departure lounge. Stansted, now owned by MAG, says it has “used research by psychologists to understand the points when passengers feel confused, stressed and relaxed during their time at the airport.” MAG is investing £40 million in the project with a further £40 million invested by commercial partners.     Click here to view full story…


EasyJet signs deal to double its annual number of passengers at Stansted

June 13, 2013     EasyJet is planning to increase its annual passenger numbers at Stansted from 2.8m now to 6m per year, over the next 5 years. EasyJet has announced a framework agreement with MAG, which now owns Stansted. Stansted wants to be seen as a key part of the current debate on South East’s airport capacity and hopes that EasyJet will help with that – and halt its steady decline. EasyJet currently flies 8 planes on up to 27 routes from Stansted. It has around twice as many planes and routes at Luton and about 6 times as many at Gatwick as at Stansted. Stansted had around 18 million passengers in 2012, which is about 26.5% lower than its peak in 2007. It could cater for 35 million per year, on its one runway. EasyJet has also struck similar deals with Edinburgh and Gatwick airports since they were sold off by BAA.     Click here to view full story…



Think tank, Independent Transport Commission, recommends one hub airport, at Heathrow, Stansted or Thames Estuary

May 29, 2013     A charity land use and transport think tank, the Independent Transport Commission (ITC), have produced a report – to be submitted to the Airports Commission, on airport capacity. The ITC report says one major hub airport is needed, in order to compete with European rival airports. Heathrow cannot be left as it is. They say using two London airports to share the load will not do. They also say that if that hub is not Heathrow, then Heathrow would need to close, in order to give investors confidence that airlines would move their business. Closing Heathrow would have immense implications, with 114,000 people directly and indirectly employed by the airport. Its closure would have impacts on their families and the communities in which they live – but release a huge area of land (some 1,200 acres for profitable re-development….. though a town the size of Peterborough would be needed for the new hub airport. Their report follows a call for evidence last summer. The ITC’s key worry seems to be that “…we are losing that capacity to Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt [and] Schiphol and the airlines will want to use those airports.”      Click here to view full story…



Balaced approach needed on Stansted rail services – not a non-stop line excluding local commuter use

May 23, 2013     Stansted Airport, now owned by MAG, has been lobbying for better rail links from London. It has said this in its submission to the Airports Commission on making better use of airport capacity in the south east. The airport wants faster rail journeys to the airport (30 minutes down from current 47 minutes), and needs to able to show that a high proportion (40% in its interim master plan) arrive by public transport. It wants these better rail links to be paid for by the public purse. Stop Stansted Expansion say that the faster rail journeys between London and Stansted would be achieved by non-stop trains leaving out intermediate stops (Bishop’s Stortford or Harlow Town). This current stopping trains provides a vitally important service for local commuters. SSE has written to the Secretary of State for Transport saying unless Stansted Airport wants to build a dedicated rail line to serve the airport then all well and good but, if it wants to continue sharing the West Anglia Main Line with local users, there needs to be a balanced approach. In reality the number of passengers travelling by train to/from Stansted Airport has fallen by a third in recent years, from 5.5 million 2007/08 to 3.7 million in 2011/12, despite the introduction of a brand new fleet of trains in 2011.      Click here to view full story…

Airport capacity in London is currently underused, says new London Assembly report

May 1, 2013     The London Assembly’s Transport Committee has published a report – “Airport Capacity in London” – which suggests existing airport capacity in London, including at Heathrow and Gatwick, could be used more effectively. Their research shows Stansted (summer 2012) was only 47% full; Gatwick was 88% full; Luton was 49% full. At Heathrow there is terminal capacity for 20 million more passengers, so if larger planes were used, there is ample surplus capacity – though landing slots are 99% filled. To encourage passengers to switch from Heathrow, the report says improving transport access from central London to Gatwick, Luton and Stansted is needed – for example, by better rail connections and actively promoting public transport. The report questions the alleged “need” for additional hub airport capacity, as the vast majority of passengers using Heathrow few direct, point to point, rather than transferring. The report also notes that 75% of flights from Heathrow are short haul and that London remains the best connected European city to 23 fastest growing economies. The Transport Committee hopes its report will inform the Airports Commission, and says the Commission must examine whether better use of existing airport capacity could be an intelligent cost-effective alternative to building new airports or runways.     Click here to view full story…


Stop Stansted Expansion says majority of night flights are unnecessary and should be phased out

April 23, 2013     SSE has called for night flights to be progressively phased out at Stansted in order to reduce sleep disturbance for local communities. This is part of SSE’s submission to the Government’s current consultation on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. Because of its quiet, rural location, aircraft noise – especially at night – is more intrusive than in noisier, urban areas with higher background noise levels. The adverse economic impacts of night noise have been consistently underestimated. An independent study by consultants CE Delft last year showed that the cost to business of a ban on night flights at Heathrow would be outweighed by savings made through the reduced costs of sleep disturbance and stress caused by night flight noise. SSE believes this would also be the case at Stansted where the vast majority of night flights are not business related and do not need to operate during the night. Stansted is currently allowed 12,000 flights a year between 11.30pm and 6.00am – on average, 33 per night. This is more than twice as many as allowed at Heathrow even though Heathrow. The actual number of night flights at Stansted last year was just over 8,000. SSE wants the new cap to be well below this figure.     Click here to view full story…

Manchester Airport Group confirms Stansted takeover deal – and Ryanair cuts its Stansted flights

March 1, 2013     The Manchester Airport Group (MAG) has now completed its £1.5bn acquisition of Stansted, from Heathrow Airport Holdings. MAG already owns Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports. Stansted’s main traffic is budget airlines such as Easyjet and Ryan Air flying to Europe, and Ryanair accounts for around 70% of its traffic. MAG wants to return Stansted’s passenger numbers to what they were 5 years ago by 2018, as it is now 47% below capacity and has been losing passengers for years. MAG wants to improve the shopping experience at the airport to encourage passengers to spend more before they board flights. They also intend to lobby transport chiefs about improving rail links between Stansted and London in the medium-term. On the day of the take-over Ryanair announced that it had been planning to expand its routes from Stansted by 5% from April, but would now cut them instead by some 9% or 1 million passengers per year, allegedly due to a 6% increase in charges (or the recession?).   Click here to view full story…

Boris targets Arab states in bid to raise £80bn for a new airport

February 11, 2013     Boris Johnson plans to take a week-long tour of the Gulf states in mid-April, to drum up financial backing for his plans for a new international airport. He intends to visit Dubai, Qatar and Kuwait to raise up to £80 billion. He still wants a Thames estuary mega-hub airport, but his senior aides consider expansion of Stansted a more realistic option. Boris says a new hub airport, wherever it is, could be delivered with private finance and operated as a viable commercial business. His £80 million estimate covers the cost of terminals, runways, ancillary facilities and rail and road access. He was inspired by Hyderabad’s “aerotropolis”,30% funded by money from Gulf states. Mr Johnson also announced a team of experts including British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, designer of the Olympic aquatics centre,to draw up plans for a hub east of London. Other advisers include Pascall+Watson, which designed Heathrow Terminal 5 and the redevelopment of St Pancras station, and Atkins, which worked on the Olympics.    Click here to view full story…

SSE says Government’s new air traffic forecasts show no case for Stansted expansion

January 30, 2013    Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE), commenting on the new DfT air passenger forecasts, say that even in 2050 Stansted would be able to meet all its market demand without any need for a second runway. For Stansted, which handled 17.5 million passengers last year, the DfT predicts unconstrained demand of 26 million passengers in 2030 and of 38 million passengers in 2050. SSE say“These new official Government forecasts are far more credible than anything we have seen before, and far less threatening. The new DfT forecasts are also very much in line with the aspirations of Stansted’s new owners, Manchester Airport Group (MAG), whose Chief Executive, Charlie Cornish, has set his sights on restoring Stansted to its 2007 traffic peak within a decade. That would mean a return to an annual throughput of 24 million passengers by 2022. SSE say that amidst all the hot air from Boris about building a 4-runway ‘mega-hub’ at Stansted, it’s refreshing to have some realism from the DfT and MAG. SSE hope that removing the threat of a new runway once and for all would will lay the foundations for a vastly improved long term relationship with the local community.    Click here to view full story…

Manchester Council to cut share in MAG from 55% to 35.5% and 9 other councils cut theirs from 45% to 29%

January 22, 2013    The Manchester Evening News looked at the recent purchase of Stansted airport, by MAG, and assessed what this means for Manchester taxpayer, Manchester airport and the region. 10 councils currently own MAG and they have not had to pay anything towards the deal. The cash has been raised through a combination of MAG selling a 35.5% stake in itself to IFM and agreeing a new debt package with its banks. The deal will see Manchester Council reduce its stake in MAG from 55% to 35.5%. The other 9 councils, which currently have a 5% stake each, will share equally the remaining 29% of MAG. After buying Stansted, MAG will control nearly 19% of the UK aviation market, and this may strengthen its bargaining power when negotiating with airlines. The 10 councils hope to get a larger annual dividend now. In 2012, £20m was paid out, of which £11m went to Manchester and £1m each to the other 9 councils. MAG hopes to increase profits at Stansted, which is operating now at 47% of capacity, by increasing income from shops, restaurants and bars.    Click here to view full story…

MAG have no plans for a 2nd Stansted runway but want more airlines other than Ryanair

January 22, 2013   The Times reports that Stansted’s new owners, Manchester Airports Group, do not have any plans to build a second runway. MAG take up ownership at the end of February. Industry Funds Management helped MAG buy the airport, by taking a 35.5% stake. It told the Times that it now wants to attract other airlines, as Ryanair has around 70% of flights at Stansted. Even perhaps some full service airlines. Stansted no longer even makes full use of its one runway, with the number of passengers falling from almost 24 million in 2007 to some 17.4 million in 2012, due to easyJet taking many of its flights to Gatwick instead, and the closure of some small low cost airlines. IFM said the airport is only working at about 47% capacity. Charlie Cornish, MAG’s chief executive, indicated the company had little appetite for competing with Heathrow. He called Stansted “the London airport for Europe”.    Click here to view full story…

Stansted to be sold for £1.5bn to Manchester Airports Group

January 18, 2013     Manchester Airports Group has won the bidding process to buy Stansted, at £1.5 billion – higher than commentators though the price would be, when bidding closed two days ago. MAG will now own Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports. Heathrow Airport Holdings, will retain only 4 UK airports compared with its original 7 – Heathrow, Glasgow, Southampton and Aberdeen. The sale is expected to close by the end of February. MAG also includes the commercial property company, MAG Developments, which has a £350m portfolio across its existing 3 airports and is leading the £650m Enterprise Zone development, Airport City, at Manchester. MAG also runs businesses in car parking, airport security, firefighting, engineering, advertising and motor transport. As part of the transaction, Australian infrastructure investment group Industry Funds Management (IFM) will become an investor in MAG, invest new equity and take a 35.5% stake in the enlarged group. Gatwick sold for £1.51 billion and Edinburgh sold for £807 million.     Click here to view full story…

3 bids submitted for Stansted with sale decision expected soon

January 17, 2013      Bids for Stansted are now in, and there have been three. Each bid is for around £1 billion or more. Stansted is now the UK’s 4th largest airport, by passenger numbers, after Manchester, and has mainly leisure and holiday flights, with Ryanair predominant. It was the 3rd largest till last year. The final bidders are: Australia’s Macquarie. Malaysia Airports Holdings and Manchester Airports Group (MAG) with its Australian partner IFM. The decision on which has won may be know by next week. Stansted was not seen as easy to sell because Ryanair accounts for about 70% percent of the airport’s traffic. The airline’s combative approach to pricing is expected to drag down the deal’s value well below other recently sold airports such as Gatwick and Edinburgh. “It’s a miracle they got three bids”, said one of the bidders. “The Eyanair risk is not for the fainthearted”. MAG is seen as the front-runner, and may be best at dealing with Ryanair from experience at its other UK airports.     Click here to view full story…

Gatwick’s Stewart Wingate wants Gatwick and Stansted to have 2nd runways, to compete with Heathrow

January 3, 2013     The FT reports that Stewart Wingate, the CEO of Gatwick airport, has said that London should develop 3 two-runway airports to solve its (alleged) aviation capacity challenge and limit the dominance of Heathrow. He does not want a 3 runway Heathrow, or a massive Thames Estuary airport, and he expects Gatwick’s one runway to be full by the mid to late 2020s. Gatwick’s owners want a 2nd runway costing up to £5m that would open sometime after 2020, and believe it would be cheaper to build 2nd runways at Gatwick and Stansted – some £3 – 5 billion each – rather than a 3rd Heathrow runway, which would cost about £10 billion, or a much more expensive Thames estuary airport at £50 – 60 billion. He does not believe the UK needs only one hub, nor Heathrow’s arguments that it must be allowed to expand in order to support more long-haul flights to emerging markets such as the Far East. He believes airlines like easyJet could fly in passengers to connect to long haul flights from Gatwick or Stansted, in competition to Heathrow.     Click here to view full story…

Boris pushing for a 4 runway hub at Stansted in his evidence to Airports Commission

December 16, 2012    The Sunday Times reports that Boris Johnson is planning to put forward the idea of a huge hub airport, with 4 runways, at Stansted. The Times says Boris will order a feasibility study into developing Stansted, and he will be submitting the findings from this study as his evidence to the Airports Commission under Sir Howard Davies. Boris is committed to opposing expansion at Heathrow, which would be deeply unpopular with thousands of Londoners, because of the noise intrusion. Boris is keen on building a huge new airport, but the Conservatives have a manifesto commitment for no new runways during the current parliament. George Osborne is not thought to favour a huge new Thames estuary airport, but he might be more supportive of expanding Stansted. In the concept of a massive Stansted hub, Heathrow would shrink. There has been fierce opposition to expanding Stansted in the past, and even building one extra runway proved difficult. Boris’s plans for Stansted would be fought with passionate and determined intensity.     Click here to view full story…

Malaysia Airports Holdings join £1bn contest to buy Stansted

November 26, 2012  There are now 5 bidders: 

The Sunday Telegraph reports that Malaysia Airports Holdings is now bidding for Stansted. The Malaysian group owns 39 airports in Malaysis including Kuala Lumpur Airport. Heathrow (aka. BAA) has sought out new bidders – in addition to the existing four – to try and boost the auction price. The original four are Manchester Airport Group (MAG) which is the favourite and is backed by Australia’s Industry Funds Management, plus financial investors TPG, Macquarie and HRL Morrison. The Telegraph says Macquarie and HRL Morrison are in the market trying to raise the necessary funds for their bids, and TPG believes it is being sidelined in the process. Malaysia Airports Holdings is 40.4% owned by Malaysia’s state investment company. It owns a 20% stake in Istanbul airport and a 10% holding in Indira Gandhi airport in Delhi.  A sale is expected in the first half of 2013. Click here to view full story…

Stop Stansted Expansion calls for an end to night flights over an 8 hour period, not 6½ hours

November 19, 2012    On the eve of next Saturday’s European Day of Action Against Night Flights (November 24), Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has renewed its call for a total ban on night flights. Stansted is currently permitted by the Government to handle up to 12,000 night flights a year, between 11.30pm and 6.00am. This is more than double the number of night flights permitted at Heathrow (5,800) even though Heathrow is four times bigger than Stansted. Stansted’s rural location means the impact of aircraft noise on local residents trying to sleep is worse than at Heathrow because rural ambient noise levels at night are so much lower than in a city. Stansted has 24 hour BA cargo flights, using noisy ‘Super Jumbo’ Boeing 747-8 cargo aircraft are only based at Stansted because they are not allowed to be based at Heathrow. A report in 2011 showed the scale of the economic savings that would be made at Heathrow if night flights were stopped, due to the costs of sleep disturbance and stress caused by night flight noise – and the same logic applies to Stansted. Tired workers are less healthy and productive. “The impact of night flight noise has been consistently underestimated and it’s time for the Government to set down a firm timetable for ending the misery of night flights.”    Click here to view full story…

Blog by Zac Goldsmith: “No ifs, no buts, we need a decision on Heathrow now”

November 13, 2012      In a blog in the Spectator, Zac writes that waiting 3 years for the Davies Commission to report, and then another 3 years for a lengthy planning process, it could be more like six years before work even begins. He says a delay of 6 years would cause paralysis for business, and also for residents. “The dithering isn’t simply bad for the economy. For voters beneath Heathrow’s flight-path, this ambiguity looks like a hidden green light for expansion.” Zac believes that the government’s review will almost certainly rule out Heathrow expansion, as the economic arguments “will not justify subjecting 2 million residents to increased aerial bombardment.” And Zac argues that “the arguments being used to bulldoze the government into a U-turn are grossly exaggerated.” His solution is for Heathrow to operate much more efficiently, to get rid of the point-to-point flights to places such as Cyprus and Greece, and for a two-hub approach, with Heathrow catering (broadly speaking) for western-facing flights, and Stansted catering for eastern business flights. Click here to view full story…

Heathrow rejects both “Heathwick” and any idea of a dual hub with Stansted

October 30, 2012    On 21st October, Philip Hammond (now Defence Secretary, but who was Transport Secretary) said a Thames estuary airport would be very expensive and require closing Heathrow, which he believes would “destroy” the economies of West London, the Thames Valley, and the Surrey-Sussex corridor and be a complete disaster. He also said “I have long thought the answer is one hub across two sites, with a fast shuttle service between Heathrow and Gatwick.” Now José Leo, BAA’s [now renamed Heathrow Ltd] company’s chief financial officer says “Heathwick” would mean Heathrow would lose a “critical element of competition” if passengers had to spend time on trains between airports. So neither Heathrow nor Gatwick want Heathwick. On the suggested rail link between Heathrow and Stansted, Mr Leo said that had a dual hub system between Heathrow and Stansted been viable, BAA,would already have pursued that option, but it would not be of use to Heathrow.   Click here to view full story…


4-runway mega-hub at Stansted airport proposed by “Make” architects

22.10.2012    Plans for a new four-runway London mega-hub at Stansted capable of handling 150 million passengers a year have been unveiled. The plan is by architect Ken Shuttleworth, the architect behind the Gherkin in the City. The plans from his practice, “Make” Architects, would see Heathrow either entirely redeveloped or drastically reduced in size.  They would involve building three new 4km-long runways at Stansted and creating a new Crossrail link from Stansted to Stratford, reducing train journey times to 25 minutes. The Norman Foster-designed 1991 main terminal building could also be transformed into a train station under the plans but full architectural details have yet to be revealed. Timescales and construction cost have also yet to be confirmed. Boris is in favour of this new Stansted hub, if he cannot get his Thames estuary airport. 



BAA says Stansted could be run for £5m less per year than they did – to raise its price

October 15, 2012    BAA has admitted that anyone else could run Stansted for at least £5m a year less, due to lower mangement costs. The information is disclosed in the “information memorandum” sent to bidders for Stansted, which is valued at around £1bn in August. The document is aimed at getting the best possible price for Stansted but one City source said it was bizarre to now be saying this. Stansted had £141.5m operating costs in its most recent year. Ryanair says the reason for the £5 million drop is that BAA has been lumping in expenses from its other 4 airports – Heathrow, Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The sale document makes out that another operator could get passenger numbers to bounce back to 24.6m by 2019, from 17.1 million this year. Some of the possible buyers of Stansted are MAG and a consortium led by Australasian investment manager Morrison & Co, Citi Infrastructure Partners, Macquarie and Deutsche Bank’s infrastructure arm, Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, JP Morgan and Li Ka-Shing’s CKI .  Click here to view full story…


Ryanair rules out Stansted airport bid

10.10.2012 Ryanair has bowed out of the competition to buy Stansted airport after saying that owner BAA had indicated it would not sell the facility to any bidding consortium that included the low-cost carrier.  BAA and Ferrovial declined to comment. UK competition authorities would have blocked the airline from taking any more than a 25% stake. Analysts pointed out that any buyer of Stansted would eventually need to work with Ryanair to achieve growth – the airport has seen traffic figures fall by a quarter in the past five years. FT  see full story ….

Rival group of Morrison, NZSF and Infratil enters battle for Stansted airport

September 22, 2012    The process of the sale of Stansted is believed to have started. A team that is headed by Morrison & Co, which operates in New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong, is making a bid. The team also includes the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Infratil. The interest of Infratil in Stansted has surprised some industry observers because it is currently trying to sell its two smaller British airports – Prestwick and Manston – which have both lost Infratil a lot of money. Infratil, which runs about £2.5bn of assets, has twice written down Manston and Prestwick in the past two years, with their carrying value almost halving from £70m to £36m today. The two airports lost around £6m last year. The Morrison consortium is believed to have held early talks with Ryanair, and is in competition with Manchester Airports Group, which is in a potential deal with Australia’s Industry Funds Management. And others. The sale is complicated by the Government’s review of airport capacity in the south east, led Sir Howard Davies. Click here to view full story…


Village of Mole Hill Green would be demolished by a 2nd Stansted runway

September 15, 2012    Simon Calder writes about prospects of another Stansted runway, which Michael O’Leary has told him “would account for all the growth you need in the South-east for 10 or 20 years.” BAA withdrew a planning application for a 2nd runway shortly after the last election, but Stansted is now for sale. It a 2nd runway was built, the village of Molehill Green would be demolished. Stop Stansted Expansion says the weakening of this Government’s position on runways is deplorable, but they expect the new Davies Commission to draw the same conclusion as a 1980s report, that an extra runway at Stansted would be: “An unprecedented and wholly unacceptable major environmental and visual disaster.”    Click here to view full story…


Competition Commission could foil Ryanair plan for Stansted stake

September 11, 2012   The Competition Commission will stamp down on Ryanair’s bid to take a 24.9 % stake in any consortium that buys Stansted airport. Any more than this would definitely cause problems with regulators especially after the airline’s attempts to take over Aer Lingus. Ryanair believes that by investing in the group that eventually purchases Stansted, its interests will be better served as Ryanair is Stansted’s main tenant – operating 41 planes there. The Competition Commission has suggested in the past that resident airlines could own no more than a tiny slice – perhaps 5 or 10% of the airport, so that it cannot make decisions on how the airport is run which would hurt competitor airlines. Michael O’Leary has been saying Stansted has permission for a 2nd runway. It does not. The application was withdrawn.   Click here to view full story…


Stop Stansted Expansion welcomes independent Aviation Connectivity Commission

September 10, 2012   SSE has welcomed the Government’s decision to establish an independent commission to look at aviation connectivity issues. They are disappointed the Government is not simply adhering to the policy which it laid down at the beginning of this Parliament, that there should be no more runways in the south-east. But it has been clear for some time now that, in response to heavy lobbying by the aviation industry, it was about to review this policy, and that this would include considering expansion at Stansted. There have been 3 independent assessments in the past which all concluded there should be no more runways at Stansted, (1960s – Chelmsford Inquiry; 1960s and 1970s – Roskill Commission; 1980s – Inspector Eyre). SSE has every reason to believe that this new commission will reach the same conclusion.   Click here to view full story…


Qatar sovereign wealth fund buys 20% stake in BAA leaving Ferrovial 40%

August 22, 2012      Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund is buying 20% of BAA, adding it to a portfolio of British interests including stakes in Harrods, Barclays and J Sainsbury. Ferrovial will sell a 10.6% stake to Qatar Holding. At the same time two more shareholders have sold shares representing 9.4% of the business to the fund, leaving it with a 20% investment in BAA. The total value of the transaction is £900m. Qatar Holding is funded by proceeds from the world’s third largest gas reserves and wants more investment in the UK. This represents further retrenchment by Ferrovial from one of the UK’s most bruising foreign takeovers, although it denied that it is seeking a full exit from BAA. Ferrovial shareholding in BAA will be less than 40% once the Qatar deal is completed, while it owned 55% in 2010. BAA still has almost £11 billion debt.     Click here to view full story…


BAA agrees to sell off Stansted airport – no further appeals

August 20, 2012     BAA has finally agreed it will not mount a final appeal to the Supreme Court to avoid having to sell Stansted. The Court of Appeal last month upheld a competition ruling dating back to 2009, dictating that Stansted must be sold. BAA has been told it does not have the legal grounds for a further appeal. BAA still asserts that the Competition Commission is wrong, as Heathrow and Stansted serve different markets. BAA has been trying every delaying tactic to delay the sale for as long as possible, due to the current depressed market. The airport is valued at around £1 billion. Stansted, which deals mainly with leisure travellers, has been hit hard by the double dip recession and has been losing passengers consistently since 2007. There is no timetable yet for the sale. MAG and South Korea’s state-owned Incheon airport group are possible buyers.    Click here to view full story…


Stop Stansted Expansion celebrates its 10th birthday

August 5, 2012    There was only time for a brief pause during a busy Stop Stansted Expansion committee meeting on August 3rd, to celebrate the campaign group’s 10th birthday. After a quick group photograph and a slice of cake it was back to work, dealing with the Government’s latest consultation on future aviation policy. SSE’s Chairman, Peter Sanders, reminded everyone of what SSE has achieved in its decade and the remarkable success is stopping a 2nd runway, after a long fight. They list 10 key achievements, as well as the runway win. However, the Government is again looking at airport capacity in the South East and SSE is again working hard behind the scenes trying to prevent a repeat of the threat of Stansted becoming another Heathrow.    Click here to view full story…

Ryanair Seeking 25% Stake in London Stansted Airport Bid Group

July 30, 2012    Ryanair is keen to take a 25 % equity stake in Stansted by participating in one of a number of groups that may bid for the airport. Ryanair, Stansted’s biggest customer, is prepared to make “a modest commitment” as “anchor tenant” at the airport and has been examining proposals from five or six groups, from which one or two serious bids are likely to emerge. Ryanair’s Chief Financial Officer said “Stansted is the only place in London where another runway can be built. It makes more sense to have it at Heathrow, but Stansted is the only place with capacity and we want a 25% stake.” Stansted has to be sold soon, as BAA lost it latest stage in its appeal to avoid the sale last week, though it is possible it will go to the Supreme Court. South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corp. may also bid for Stansted, as well as Manchester Airports Group.    Click here to view full story…


BAA loses Stansted legal challenge

July 26, 2012     BAA lost its latest challenge today against a decision forcing it to sell Stansted. The appeal by the Spanish-owned company was rejected by three Court of Appeal judges in London. In 2009 the Competition Commission ruled that BAA must sell Stansted and two of its other UK airports, and BAA has since mounted a series of unsuccessful legal challenges against the decision. Earlier this year BAA lost an appeal before the Competition Appeal Tribunal.    Click here to view full story…

BAA says Stansted airport will rebound when UK economy recovers

July 26, 2012    BAA says it believes struggling Stansted will rebound strongly when the UK economy recovers. Stansted passenger numbers have continued to decline this year and Colin Matthews said Stansted would struggle “as long as the UK consumer is not confident”. But  “It’s the only London airport with significant capacity to grow so when the UK consumer is confident again, we’ll see growth quicker there than anywhere else.” Stansted passengers have been down each month this year by between -2.5% and – 6.6% compared to the same month last year. Passenger numbers were down 24% in 2011, compared to the peak in 2007.  Click here to view full story…


Justine Greening confirms, in Parliament, no new runways at Heathrow, Gatwick or Stansted and no Heathrow mixed mode

June 29, 2012     Transport Secretary Justine Greening has insisted the Government will stick to the coalition agreement’s restrictions on airport expansion, ruling out a 3rd runway at Heathrow. She also confirmed the government’s support for the full agreement, signed between the Tories and Liberal Democrats, which also rules out further runways at Gatwick and Stansted. The question she was asked, in Parliament, was (by Julian Huppert, Cambridge Lib Dem) “Will the Secretary of State confirm that the Government will stand by the whole of the coalition agreement in this area? Will she confirm that they will stand by the cancellation of the third runway at Heathrow, as she has said, will refuse additional runways at Gatwick and Stansted, and will rule out mixed mode at Heathrow?”. Her reply was: “I think I have been very clear: the coalition agreement, in its entirety, stands. That is the position.”   Click here to view full story…


Vince Cable backs Birmingham, while Boris pushes for Stansted expansion (and the estuary)

June 19, 2012     The campaign to expand Birmingham Airport has gained a new ally – Business Secretary, Vince Cable. The airport recently launched a new London publicity campaign to persuade the Government to throw its support behind Birmingham at the expense of a third runway at Heathrow. Vince Cable said there was no resistance from residents to this expansion to Birmingham building up to being a “really serious international airport”, and this would be a “short-term, pragmatic solution that would bring an awful lot more flights to the country” while extra runway capacity at an airport in the South East could take years to deliver. So Boris has been suggesting a 2nd Stansted runway (opposed even by the aviation industry) and Vince is backing Birmingham, as interim “solutions” to an alleged problem of capacity.    Click here to view full story…


Evening Standard says Boris Johnson wants a 2nd runway at Stansted (and to be PM so he can build the estuary airport)

June 18, 2012    Boris says a 2nd Stansted runway, and high speed rail to the airport,as an “interim solution” would be, in his words, a “fantastic step in the right direction” to solving the South-East’s (alleged) air capacity crisis before building a new hub in the Thames Estuary. Boris is complaining that David Cameron, in response to the barrage of lobbying for a new runway at Heathrow, has not ruled it out after the next election in 2015 – and Boris says this is detracting from his plans for the mega airport in the Thames estuary. BAA said building runway 2 at Stansted “will not solve the UK’s hub airport capacity crisis” and would just “increase the amount of spare capacity there.” Boris’s comments will be seen as an acceptance that the Government will not immediately opt for his estuary airport plan. Oh, and he wants to be Prime Minister too – so he can get the estuary airport plan through….   Click here to view full story…


Boris: dead against 3rd Heathrow runway, but wants runway at Stansted or Gatwick reconsidered (while waiting for the estuary airport)

May 29, 2012     Interviewed by Allegra Stratton, of BBC’s Newsnight, Boris Johnson said London should follow Hong Kong’s example and build a new airport. And quickly. Boris Johnson has accused the government of trying to kick a decision about a new airport into “the long grass” until past the next election, and that this was down to the coalition leadership trying to “appease their ideological environmental wing” of both parties. Boris said his colleagues in central government appear to be “tip-toeing back towards the electrified fence of the third runway,” and says that if they go ahead they will get “the most powerful shock”. He opposes a 3rd Heathrow runway, but urges the government to discard the coalition agreement and consider expanding at Stansted or Gatwick as an interim solution ahead of any new airport built in the South East.   Click here to view full story…


BAA given last chance to appeal Stansted sale

May 28, 2012     At the Royal Courts of Justice in London, BAA was told it could make its case for the final time before the Court of Appeal. No date has been set for a hearing. This means the 3-year long battle by BAA to avoid having to sell Stansted drags on, yet again. The legal battle started back in March 2009 with a Competition Commission ruling that ordered the break-up of BAA. It has already had to sell Gatwick and Edinburgh airports, and BAA argues that the aviation market has changed substantially since the original ruling. It also stresses that Stansted does not compete with its only other remaining London airport, Heathrow. The airport’s MD says the ownership battle had hampered the airport’s ability to grow and attract more airlines, and it has lost about a quarter of its passengers since 2007.    Click here to view full story…


Slowdown in cheap flights (big fall at Stansted between 2007 and 2011) gives boost to British economy

April 30, 2012   New figures published by the Office of National Statistics show that the British are taking almost 20% fewer overseas holidays compared to 3 years ago, whilst the number of foreign tourists visiting the UK is virtually unchanged. This means a major boost for the UK Balance of Payments and shows that the Government’s policy of increasing APD is actually benefiting the UK economy, contrary to the claims made by the UK’s major airlines – and foreign tourists are not being deterred by APD from visiting the UK. The latest statistics show a decrease in overseas leisure trips by UK residents from 60 million to 49 million between 2008 and 2011 leading to a reduction in the UK’s tourism trade deficit from £20 billion to £13 billion. Inbound tourist numbers fell by just 300,000 over the same period. The boom in cheap leisure flights and the generous tax breaks given to the aviation industry actually harm the UK economy and damage traditional UK tourist destinations    Click here to view full story…

Stop Stansted Expansion calls on the CAA to tackle the environmental impacts of aviation

April 17, 2012      Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has called on the CAA, to do much more to tackle the adverse environmental impacts of the industry, particularly for communities near to airports. In its response to an environmental consultation by the Civil Aviation Authority, Stop Stansted Expansion makes clear that fine words will not be enough without measurable targets and timescales to ensure progress towards meaningful goals. Top of SSE’s list for action is reduced aircraft noise during take offs and landing, as well as addressing night noise from both aircraft and airport operations and helicopters. SSE wants the CAA to be far more active on environmental issues and is also pressing for it to become an independent environmental watchdog for the aviation industry.    Click here to view full story…


February 29, 2012    BAA has announced that it has initiated appeal proceedings against the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s judgment of 1 February 2012, upholding the Competition Commission’s ruling that BAA must sell Stansted Airport. This means that the uncertainty over the future ownership of Stansted Airport is set to continue for at least another six months. Once again, BAA has waited until the very last day before lodging its appeal – just a few hours before the deadline.    Click here to view full story…

Manchester Airport owners agree restructure to fund Stansted acquisition

February 15, 2012     Greater Manchester’s 10 councils have agreed in principle to restructure their ownership of Manchester Airport to fund a swoop for Stansted. Manchester Airports Group is seeking equity investment to give it the firepower to buy Stansted. MAG is currently owned by the 10 local authorities, with Manchester city council holding a 55% stake and the others 5% each. Proposals have been put to the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, seeking approval for a new ownership model to be adopted if an external investor can be secured.     Click here to view full story…

Stansted sale: BAA loses appeal against ruling

February 1, 2012   BAA has lost its appeal against a ruling by the Competition that it must sell Stansted airport. The CC first ruled 3 years ago that BAA’s dominance in London and Scotland meant it must sell Gatwick, Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports. BAA continued to fight the Stansted decision. Its appeal has now been dismissed by the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, a judicial body whose panel is made up of judges and industry experts. BAA had argued that Stansted served a different market from Heathrow, and are used by different airlines, so they argued it was not anti-competitive for it to operate both airports. BAA does not want to have to sell Stansted in such an unfavourable economic climate.   Click here to view full story…


BAA agrees finally to sell back the 279 houses it has been hanging onto at Stansted

January 31, 2012    BAA has finally agreed to sell back all the 279 houses around that airport that it bought, when hoping to build a second runway. Most were bought around 8 years ago, but some as much as 30 years ago. But there is no timescale yet for the sales. This is a major shift in the company’s position; in March 2011, Mr Matthews declared that just some of the BAA-owned houses around the airport would be sold, whilst those which might one day be needed for a 2nd runway would be retained. However, BAA is still refusing to sell back the houses it owns around Heathrow on the grounds that they might one day be needed to make way for a 3rd runway there. Stop Stansted Expansion welcomed the news, which is long overdue, and will help remove the blight and uncertainty which has overshadowed the community for far too long.     Click here to view full story…



October 27th 2011   Stop Stansted Expansion’s successful campaign forcing withdrawal of plans for a second runway chalked up a further victory at the public relations industry’s ‘Oscars’ when SSE lifted the winning trophy in the Public Affairs category of the 2011 PR Week Awards.  In their commendation, the judges said SSE had “successfully scuppered BAA’s plans to build a second runway at Stansted Airport”, describing the campaign as “highly impressive”. The judges contrasted SSE’s relatively tiny budget with BAA’s £200 million war chest saying this was “proof that successful lobbying is not about contact books and huge budgets”. Click here to view full story and photo …..

BAA opts to sell Edinburgh airport for £500m and keep Glasgow

October 20, 2011    BAA is putting Edinburgh Airport up for sale with an estimated price tag of about £500m. They chose Edinburgh instead of Glasgow, as it would fetch a higher price, is performing better and would be easier to sell. Bidders include GIP (owns Gatwick), Manchester Airports Group, Borealis Infrastructure, and Macquarie. BAA is now starting sale preparations and expects to formally approach the market in the New Year in order to agreeing a sale by Summer 2012.   Click here to view full story…

BAA ordered to sell Glasgow or Edinburgh airport before selling Stansted

October 8, 2011    BAA has been told by the Competition Commission that it must sell either Edinburgh or Glasgow before it sells Stansted. Earlier this year it had said BAA should sell Stansted first, but BAA appealed which has caused delay. So now the sale of one of the Scottish airports must be brought forward, and will begin soon, as it will take longer for Stansted to be sorted out. BAA says it is now clearer than ever “that Heathrow & Stansted serve different markets.”    Click here to view full story…

BAA considers appeal to EU human rights court over forced ‘fire sale’ of two airports

25th July 2011    BAA is considering appealing to the European Court of Human Rights in a last-ditch attempt to avoid having to sell 2 airports, saying having to sell them now is unfair as they will fetch a poor price. Last week the CC issued what it claimed was a final ruling, after years, that BAA must sell Stansted and Edinburgh or Glasgow.  BAA’s Spanish owner, Ferrovial, is considering a judicial review, which even if unsuccessful could delay a sale process until 2012.    Click here to view full story…

BAA must sell off two airports

19th July 2011     The Competition Commission has givenits final ruling, that BAA must sell 2 of its UK airports – Stansted followed by either Edinburgh or Glasgow. The sale process will start in 3 months “or sooner if undertakings are accepted from BAA in the meantime”, the CC said. This follows a provisional ruling on the sales made in March this year and ends a two-year saga which began in March 2009 when the CC made what was seen then as a final report on BAA’s airport ownership.  Click here to view full story…

SSE says: Time for BAA to accept defeat at Stansted

19th July 2011    Stop Stansted Expansion has condemned BAA’s suggestion that it will apply for judicial review of today’s final verdict from the Competition Commission ordering BAA to sell Stansted Airport by the end of next year.  SSE say the uncertainty has gone on far too long and BAA should now respect the CC’s ruling and the courts and sell Stansted as quickly as possible.  BAA should not be allowed a repetition of the previous lengthy appeal process.   Click here to view full story…

BAA set for legal fight if ordered to sell airports

18th July 2011   BAA could seek a judicial review against the Competition Commission if, as expected, it is ordered to sell Stansted and one of its Scottish airports. The CC indicated earlier this year in a preliminary review of a 2009 ruling that it was still minded to order the forced divestments in order to increase competition in the airport market in south-east England and Scotland. The final report on 19th is expected to give BAA 18 months to arrange an auction. Click here to view full story…

Manchester Airport interested in buying Stansted and a Scottish hub

19th May 2011     MAG has confirmed its interest in buying Stansted and possibly Glasgow or Edinburgh.  It would seek to bring in more long-haul airlines and cut Stansted’s dependence on low-cost airlines in general and Ryanair in particular – which it sees as risky.  The timetable for the sell-off is still unclear. MAG currently owns Manchester, East Midlands, Bournemouth and Humberside airports. For debt-laden BAA, the prospect of securing a good price may appear dim.  Click here to view full story…

BAA told by Competition Commission to sell 2 airports – welcomed by SSE

30th March 2011     BAA has been told by the CC that it should sell Stansted and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports. BAA has mounted a string of legal challenges to try to keep them ever since the commission initially ruled in 2009 that it must sell 3 of its 7 UK airports. The commission said its decision was “fully justified” and it would publish its final verdict in May or June. Stop Stansted Expansion says “Don’t prolong the agony” and sell Stansted soon, to remove the blight.    Click here to view full story…





17th March 2011    March news update with stories relating to Stansted.
Click here to view full story…

Stansted flights in 2010 hit 10 year low – and worse is to come

12th January 2011    Flights in and out of Stansted in 2010 hit a 10 year low, which has prompted Stop Stansted Expansion to reiterate its call for BAA to commit to a long term moratorium on a 2nd runway.  The airport handled 143,335 commercial flights compared to 146,500 in 2000.  The number of passengers continued to decline, dropping 7% last year to 18.6 million passengers compared to 20.0 m in 2009.  BAA expects tolose another million travellers in 2011, down to 17.6m.  (SSE)    Click here to view full story…

 Managing director, Stewart Wingate, leaves Stansted – succeeded by David Johnston

2nd December 2010    BAA today announces that David Johnston has been appointed managing director of Stansted Airport, succeeding Stewart Wingate, who has chosen to leave the company to join Connaught plc. David is currently group procurement director, having joined BAA in 2007 as managing director of Edinburgh Airport.  This is the 4th change of MD in four years.      Click here to view full story…


 News update from Stop Stansted Expansion

15th November 2010    November newsletter from SSE      Click here to view full story…


 Court of Appeal tells BAA to sell Stansted and a Scottish airport

13th October 2010     BAA has lost the latest round of a long-running legal saga with the competition authorities over its dominance of the UK’s airports. It will now be forced to sell Stansted, and either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports. BAA lost a hearing in the Court of Appeal brought by the Competition Commission. Earlier in the year BAA had argued that the Competition Appeals Tribunal ruling has been biased as one member of the committee had advised Manchester Airport’s pension fund.      Click here to view full story…

SSE says BAA should accept Appeal Court victory and sell Stansted

13th October 2010

Stop Stansted Expansion has called on BAA to accept today’s ruling by Lord Justice
Maurice Kay in the Court of Appeal and sell Stansted Airport without further delay.
SSE urge BAA to accept the Court’s decision and relinquish control of Stansted
without any more delaying tactics, such as an appeal to the Supreme Court as creating
further uncertainty would not be in the interests of either the local community
or the airport’s employees.      Click here to view full story…

Ed Miliband victory raises hopes of all-party agreement on runway ban

27th September 2010

The election of Ed Miliband as the new leader of the Labour party has been welcomed
by Stop Stansted Expansion in view of his strong environmental credentials and
stated opposition to new runways at Heathrow and Stansted. SSE is actively pressing
the Coalition Government for a moratorium on a second runway at Stansted and,
in parallel, is seeking to persuade Labour politicians to abandon their previous
policy of supporting airport expansion. (SSE)         Click here to view full story…

Stansted runway ramblers to highlight airport blight on Sunday 26th September

21st September 2010

SSE is organising the 9th runway ramble, to be held on Sunday 26th. It aims to
highlight the blight which lingers over the countryside in the wake of the recently
withdrawn plans to construct a 2nd runway at Stansted – and remind people that
the battle for the community’s future needs to be enshrined in a lasting agreement
by the main political parties so future generations do not have to go through
yet another war with the airport to safeguard the area.         Click here to view full story…

 Stansted and Manchester airports now officially ‘A380 READY’

19th August 2010

The CAA has said Manchester is “A380 ready”. The first A380 at the airport is
due to be an Emirates plane, in 2 weeks. Only 17 airports globally (4 in England)
are certified for the A380, as it is so large. Manchester has spent more than
£10 million upgrading to the standards needed for the Emirates super-jumbo, including
reconstructing a new aircraft stand with state of the art equipment including
an advance docking system. Stansted now also approved.   Click here to view full story…

Community meeting on Stansted aircraft noise on 23rd July

9th July 2010
 Sir Alan Haselhurst MP will join local councillors, SSE and BAA to discuss the
ongoing problem of noisy aircraft and the problems they cause to the people of
the Hallingburys, Hatfield Heath, Hatfield Broad Oak and beyond at a special meeting.
The issue of increased aircraft noise came to a head last summer after newly-introduced
departure practices for planes leaving Stansted coupled with the intrusion caused
by the ear-splitting Air Asia X Kuala Lumpur service.       Click here to view full story


 London Assembly opposes any increase in flights at BAA’s London airports.

18th June 2010
The London Assembly has unanimously called for a ban on any increase in the number
of flights operating from BAA’s London airports. It expressed concern that following
the Government’s decision to reject a 3rd runway at Heathrow, BAA may try increase
the number of flights from its airports by the back door, by operational and regulatory
changes like allowing mixed mode operations and increasing the number of night
flights. (These would be strongly opposed).       Click here to view full story…

SSE embarks on a final mission: “NEVER AGAIN! but we’ll settle for 50 years”

1st June 2010

SSE has launched the final stage of its campaign against major expansion at Stansted.
The new initiative’s key message is ‘NEVER AGAIN … but we’ll settle for 50 years’
and the objective is to secure a commitment that no additional runways will be
permitted at Stansted until 2060 at the earliest. People in the area have suffered
from uncertainty and repeated runway threats for 50 years, and they feel they
deserve the guarantee of being left in peace for 50 more.    Click here to view full story…


 BAA STANSTED: Stansted to withdraw runway planning application

24th May 2010

BAA Stansted says: “Stansted Airport today announces that it is withdrawing its
application to build a 2nd runway at the airport. The move follows a clear indication
that Government airports policy will change, following the recent General Election.
Stansted will also withdraw, with immediate effect, the provision for assisted
relocation within the home owner support scheme introduced at Stansted in 2004.”
They add that BAA believes “new airport capacity is needed in the South East of
England, to strengthen the UK’s international trading links.”         Click here to view full story…


3rd runway plan for Heathrow and 2nd runway plan for Stansted scrapped by BAA

24th May 2010

BAA today formally dropped plans for new runways at Heathrow and Stansted airports,
bringing to a close one of the most controversial parts of the last Labour government’s
transport policy. BAA said late last year it was shelving its programme at Heathrow
until after the election. BAA today said it would stop all work on a planning
application for the 3rd Heathrow runway. It also said it was also withdrawing
its plans for a 2nd Stansted runway. (Guardian)    Click here to view full story…



24th May 2010

Stop Stansted Expansion is about to organise the biggest party in its history
following BAA’s humiliating climbdown over its plans for a 2nd Stansted runway.
BAA formally withdrew its planning application for a second Stansted runway which
if approved would have made the airport bigger than Heathrow. The planning application
had taken BAA more than 4 years to prepare and cost the airport operator some
£200 million – and badly damaged local communities.   Click here to view full story…


 Government rules out Stansed 2nd runway, but no victory yet

18th May 2010
 SSE is pressing for early meetings with new Government ministers responsible
for transport and planning to press for greater certainty in ruling out a 2nd
nd runway, not just in the life of the present Parliament, but in the longer term
as well. Ministers will be asked to put pressure on BAA to withdraw completely
its runway application, originally submitted 2 years ago but now on hold. SSE
want to ensure a 2nd Stansted runway is not in the new NPS. (SSE)  Click here to view full story…

Stansted airport planning application to rent out surplus warehouses refused

 6th May 2010

SSE is delighted to report that members of Uttlesford District Council’s Development
Control Committee voted unanimously to refuse BAA’s planning application for permission
to rent its surplus warehouse space to all-comers. The Council could find no material
reason for making an exception to its own longstanding policy of only permitting
airport-related businesses to operate from within the Stansted Airport site. (SSE)  Click here to view full story…


Uttlesford Council wants to break its own rules to help BAA’s financial plight

27th April 2010
Uttlesford District Council planning officials are recommending that Councillors
approve a BAA planning application to allow it for the first time ever to rent
60,000 sq foot of Stansted Airport warehousing space to non airport-related tenants.
BAA has asked for a lifting of the “airport-related” planning restriction for
7 years so that it is free to rent the airport warehouses on the wider local market.
Opponents, including SSE, say the airport has an unfair advantage in having cheaper
land through compulsory purchase.   (SSE)    Click here to view full story…

Stansted: Government airport policy in disarray after High Court ruling on Heathrow

26th March 2010

Stop Stansted Expansion has welcomed a High Court ruling that the Government’s
2003 Air Transport White Paper is outdated and needs to be rewritten to take account
of climate change targets. The judgment has major implications for airport expansion
battles across the UK, effectively removing policy support for a 2nd runway at
Stansted. The judge ruled that the carbon costs of aviation must be included when
the economics of airport expansion. (SSE)           Click here to view full story…


“Yet more delay on Stansted 2nd runway – we can’t go on like this” – says SSE

 8th March 2010

It could be another 2 years before a Public Inquiry into a 2nd Stansted runway
is held, the Government has been told. This  came in a letter from BAA to Communities
Minister John Denham, copied to SSE, saying  that it would need 12 to 18 months
to update its March 2008 planning application and that it could not realistically
begin this until there is an end to the present uncertainty about the future ownership
of the airport, which  could also take well over a year. (SSE)    Click here to view full story…


Conservatives ‘will block Stansted runway  

’23rd February 2010       Uttlesford MP Sir Alan Haselhurst has confirmed that the Conservative party will keep their promise and block any plans to build a new runway at Stansted Airport.  In a statement yesterday the MP said that his party ‘will not approve the construction of a second runway.’ (UK Airport News)     Click here to view full story…

Cargo boost for Stansted Airport

13.02.10     Stansted Airport’s cargo operation has enjoyed its 4th month on month increase in a row. More than 15,000 tonnes of goods were transported through the airport
last month, a 14.2 % increase on January last year.   Fed-Ex has their largest UK hub  at Stansted  and the airport is also home to BA’s World Cargo operation.

Make your mind up on 2nd Stansted runway, Government tells BAA

11th February 2010       The Minister responsible for dealing with BAA’s plans for a 2nd Stansted runway has asked the airport operator to state whether it still wants to continue with its current planning application.   John Denham, Sec of State for Communities,
has also told BAA that if it does still want its second runway application to
be considered, then the information provided (a pile of documents almost 10 feet
high) when it submitted the application almost 2 years ago will need to be updated.
(SSE)     Click here to view full story…

Ryanair threaten to move from Stansted to Gatwick

3rd February 2010

Ryanair could move its flights from Stansted to Gatwick if GIP lives up to promises
to improve its facilities and keep charges down, the budget airline’s chief operating
officer, Michael Cawley, has said.    Gatwick’s chief executive Stewart Wingate
vowed to compete against London’s other 3 main airports – as did his Stansted
counterpart last week. Mr Wingate was in charge at Stansted until he was poached
by GIP two months ago. (UK Airport News)       Click here to view full story…


Stansted: BAA needs to smell the coffee

12th January 2010

BAA’s 2009 figures  make a mockery of their claim to urgently need  planning approval
for a 2nd runway.   The full year figures show Stansted handled fewer than 20 million
passengers last year, the lowest annual total for  6 years.   There was an even
sharper decline in the number of flights.   2009’s  total of 156,242 made it  Stansted’s
quietest year since 2002. But BAA bizarrely still insists on continuing with its
current planning application and wildly optimistic future passenger estimates.        Click here to view full story…


Airport passenger numbers plummet in 2009 as Britons stay at home

11th January 2010

BAA’s figures for all 2009 are now out, for its remaining 6 UK airports (not  Gatwick).
Britain’s major airports bore the brunt of last year’s “staycation”.   They carried
4.7 million passengers fewer than in 2008. The 4.1% drop reflected a year in which
the recession saw demand for overseas holidays drop. Worst hit was Stansted, with
2.3 million drop – representing 10% of total as both Ryanair and easyJet cut back
on capacity.       Click here to view full story…


December traffic figures: BAA’s airports

 11th January 2010

Passengers at BAA’s 6 UK airports were down -0.8% on Dec 2008.   Bad weather accounted
for   about 150,000 passengers. Heathrow was up +1.2% on Dec 2008. Stansted declined
-2.6% in December, the “best” performance since March 2008.   Glasgow was down
-8.8%, Edinburgh down -4.4%, Aberdeen down -9.4%, Southampton down -5.9%.   Cargo
tonnage was up 20% on last year. For the 6 airports, for all of 2009, passengers
were down -4.2%   and cargo down -7.7% on 2008.    Click here to view full story…



SSE says BAA must scrap runway plans now rather than prolong the blight

 21st December 2009
Stop Stansted Expansion  has called on BAA to withdraw its 2nd runway plans as
issues over the future ownership of Stansted Airport threaten to drag on for years,
prolonging the blight and uncertainty for the local community.   The call comes
in the wake of today’s Competition Appeal Tribunal ruling which upheld one of
the grounds of BAA’s appeal relating to apparent bias on the part of the Competition
Commission in reaching its decision that BAA must sell three of its airports,
(SSE)         Click here to view full story…

BAA wins Competition Commission appeal on airports sale

21st December 2009

BAA has won its appeal against an order to sell  3 of the  7 UK airports it runs
on the grounds that the ruling panel was affected by “apparent bias”.   his was
because one of the panel members had long standing connections with MAG.  But
the appeal tribunal rejected BAA’s argument that it was being forced to sell the
airports too quickly. The Competition Appeal Tribunal said it would now allow
more time to hear arguments as to what should happen next. Airports may still
need to  be sold. (BBC)         Click here to view full story

Transport committee ‘unsure about Stansted runway’

7.12.2009         The Commons Transport Committee has published its report, entitled
The Future of Aviation. It says consideration should be given to building an extra
runway at Gatwick rather than Stansted, and it was “not convinced” a national
case for another Stansted runway had been made. It supported Heathrow’s expansion
but called for assurances that it would be linked to other major airports by high-speed
rail. They again said aviation is important to the regions.    The report  fails
to recognise that the expansion of air travel along the lines proposed by the
Government’s 2003 Air Transport White Paper cannot be reconciled with the objective
of achieving an 80% cut in the UK’s carbon emissions by 2050.    Included GACC and
SSE press releases.
 .Click here to view full story……

October traffic figures still falling at BAA’s airports

10.11.2009       BAA’s seven UK airports handled a total of 12.3 million passengers
in October, a drop of 1.4% on the same month last year. Although still in decline,
this was the best performance since June 2008.   There was a slight increase in
passenger traffic at Heathrow, Gatwick and Edinburgh, but a fall of 10% at Stansted,
compared to October 2008. There was a drop of 6% in the number of air transport
movements. (BAA)    Click here to view full story…

Stansted contiues to bear brunt of decline in airport traffic

 9th October 2009

 The BAA figures for September show that Stansted continues to decline at a far
faster rate than BAA’s other airports. Stansted carried 11.6% fewer passengers
in September 2009 compared to the same month last year whilst the decline at both
Heathrow and Gatwick was less than 1%. This is the 23rd month in a row that Stansted
has posted a decline. SSE projects that Stansted will handle 155,000 flights this
year, the lowest annual total for 7 years. (SSE)       Click here to view full story…


Stansted buys ‘runway risk’ homes

29th September 2009

 BAA has now bought all but 6 properties within the proposed boundary for a 2nd
runway. Homes threatened by noise blight are also being purchased giving BAA ownership
of about 270 properties, bringing the BAA total spend to £90 million. Six home
owners have refused to sell. A local resident commented that there is a sense
of impermanence, and a feeling of creeping blight building up, with signs of properties
becoming slightly unkempt. (BBC)       Click here to view full story…

New MD – David Johnston – appointed at Stansted Airport

 19th September 2009

 BAA today announces that David Johnston has been appointed managing director
of Stansted Airport, succeeding Stewart Wingate, who has chosen to leave the company
to join Connaught plc. David is currently group procurement director, having joined
BAA in 2007 as managing director of Edinburgh Airport.         Click here to view full story.

For stories about Stansted Airport before September 2009, see

earlier Stansted Airport News

All articles in reverse date order