East Anglia: Data on business travel ‘can help Stansted Airport attract long-haul operators’
18:12 24 March 2014
Long haul flights could arrive at Stansted Airport more swiftly with the right information on businesses’ air travel habits, its managing director says.
Andrew Harrison wants the region’s firms to supply details of their air travel bookings as part of the airport’s bid to secure long-haul routes.
He hopes that long haul airlines will opt to run services from the site in the next two to three years, but believes that more data about demand will help to strengthen the case as owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) makes the case to carriers.
Speaking at a Suffolk Chamber of Commerce lunch held at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa, Mr Harrison said MAG was “actively working” to secure long haul business at the site.
“Fifteen businesses in Suffolk have shared with us their business data about which business destinations they fly to and in what volumes,” he said. “If we can aggregate all that demand together we can make our talks with airlines all the more meaningful.
“Suffolk is a really, really important part of our catchment. Three quarters of a million Suffolk people fly from Stansted every year and we know it would be more if there were a greater range of routes.”
Having already secured more business from budget airlines Ryanair and easyJet, who are themselves looking to appeal more to the region’s businesses and to families, MAG is now pursuing long haul as its medium-term objective.
“It really depends on when the aircraft are available,” Mr Harrison added.
But if firms, through organisations such as Suffolk Chamber, submit key data which shows which airports they use, which class of travel they select and how often they travel, this can be put in front of carriers and used to build up a picture of latent demand, he explained.
MAG is also pressing for improvements to rail links to the airport, including early-bird travel links for those travelling in at 3am or 4am in the morning in order to catch early flights from the airport.
“We have 400 to 500 people a night sleeping in the terminal as well as the hotels,” he said.
Mr Harrison, who has been in post for just over a year following the sale of the airport to MAG, said it had been a “busy year” for airport staff.
Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has accepted an invitation to address Suffolk Chamber members at a future date, possibly as soon as May.