Annual passenger total at London Stansted Airport tops 26m for the first time

Ken O'Toole, chief executive at Stansted Airport.
Picture: Tony Pick

Ken O'Toole, chief executive at Stansted Airport. Picture: Tony Pick - Credit: Archant

A record February has seen annual passenger numbers at London Stansted Airport top 26m for the first time.

More than 1.7m passengers passed through the airport last month, an increase of 79,000 or 4.8% compared with the previous February record, set a year ago.

The total for the 12 months to the end of February grew by nearly 1.7m or 6.8% to just over 26m - just seven months since the airport’s rolliing annual figure passed the 25m mark for the first time.

Popular destinations helping to drive last month’s growth included France, Italy, Switzerland and Austria, as Britons continued to hit the ski slopes, while the winter sun attractions of the Canary Islands, Turkey and the Spanish mainland also proved a hit, although the fastest year-on-growth was on routes to Denmark and the Czech Republic.

Ken O’Toole, chief executive of London Stansted, said: “To pass another significant passenger milestone is a clear indication of Stansted’s continuing success in growing our route network and providing passengers from London and the East of England with even more choice. We expect Stansted to be the fastest growing airport in the UK this year with new long-haul services launching to Dubai, the USA and Canada in the coming months in addition to continued growth from our existing airlines.”

He added: “It’s vital we now plan ahead to consider how we best meet this growing demand in the most responsible and sustainable way.”

Stansted owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has just sumitted an application for planning permission to raise the cap on passenger numbers at the airport by 8m to 43m a year. It says this will be achieved without any increase in the number of flights or noise limits already authorised under the existing permission for 35m passengers a year.

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Mr O’Toole said the application was “crucial in supporting international connectivity over the next decade as Stansted is the only London airport with significant available runway capacity”, although the Stop Stansted Expansion campaign group has questioned the need, citing Department for Transport projections.

The volume of cargo handled at Stansted in February was up 2.1% on the same month in 2017, with 19,477 tonnes passing through the airport.