Airport Commission report does not rule out second runway for Stansted Airport in 2050

Stansted Airport

Stansted Airport - Credit: Archant

A report into the future of Britain’s airports does not rule out a second runway at Stansted – and raises fears of extra night flights to the Essex airport.

Andrew Harrison - managing director of Stansted Airport

Andrew Harrison - managing director of Stansted Airport - Credit: Archant

Although the Airport Commission report published today favours a third runway at Heathrow as the best short-term way to increase capacity in the south-east, it also indicates Stansted could be a viable option for further air expansion should it be needed in about 35 years’ time.

The comment has been backed by the airport management which has given its clearest indication yet it would like to build a second runway at Stansted.

In the shorter term the commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, recommends improved transport links, especially rail, to the Essex airport and agrees additional expansion beyond the existing 35 million annual passengers could be needed – though it is estimated this would not be until at least 2030.

Andrew Harrison, managing director of the Manchester Airport Group-owned airport, said: “The Government must now act to support the relaxation of planning caps at the appropriate time and improve rail connections to unlock the full potential of Stansted.

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“Stansted is the fastest-growing airport in the country, increasing passenger numbers by more than three million in the last year alone – the same contribution as Heathrow and Gatwick put together.

“It’s clear that making the most of existing capacity over the next 10-15 years is a vital precursor to building new capacity.

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“Looking further ahead we share the Commission’s view that Stansted’s existing runway will be full by around 2030. With London growing increasingly to the east, Stansted provides an obvious solution for additional capacity, with a new runway impacting far fewer people than other potential options, and deliverable at a fraction of their cost.”

This year Stansted is due to complete an £80m project to improve its main terminal and an £8m upgrade to a satellite departure area in a bid to attract new airlines.

However the report also raised concerns for Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst.

Sir Alan, whose constituency include the airport, fears a recommended ban on night flights at Heathrow once a third runway is completed could lead to an increase in unsocial flying hours at Stansted.

He said he was “on alert” and added: “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.”

The Stop Stansted Expansion group said it was “a great relief” the airport was no longer “front of the queue” for an additional runway.

The government will now consider the commission’s report.

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