Dip in passenger numbers shows Stansted expansion plans ‘premature’, claim protesters

Passengers at the terminal concourse at Stansted Airport Picture: LUCY MARTIN

Passengers at the terminal concourse at Stansted Airport Picture: LUCY MARTIN - Credit: Archant

There is “no question” of growth at Stansted Airport being stifled by delays to approval being granted to its expansion plans, a campaign group has claimed.

Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has pointed to a drop in passenger numbers over a three month period as proof that its controversial bid to increase a 43m annual ceiling isn't needed.

SSE - which continues to oppose the plans - pointed out that year-on year numbers were down 0.5% in July, 3.7% in August and 2.7% in September, equating to around 200,000 passengers.

MORE - Does 'retired and affluent' council have 'no concern for working people' after holding up Stansted airport growth plan decision?Residents 4 Uttlesford (R4U)-run Uttlesford District Council has come under fire from business groups for delays to giving the final go-ahead to the plans.

But SSE chairman Peter Sanders claimed there was "no question" of growth being stifled.

"These latest Stansted Airport traffic figures, showing declines across the board in passenger numbers, flights and cargo activities, demonstrate the nonsense of 'Project Fear' whereby Stansted Airport and some local business leaders were seeking to panic Uttlesford District Council into a hasty approval of the airport's expansion plans," he said.

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"We have consistently pointed out the Stansted Airport planning application for 43m passengers a year (54% more than in 2018) was premature. There is absolutely no rush for any decision. 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 November 12 to 14."

The absence of Ryanair's 737 MAX, which had been factored in for service this year, has hit the budget carrier's UK domestic services and is believed to have affected Stansted passenger numbers.

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A Stansted spokesman said the airport played "a vital role", with 11m people passing through the airport in the last six years.

"The planning application was submitted in order to allow our airline partners and those looking to grow at Stansted the long-term clarity needed need to make further investment decisions, but also importantly to provide our local community with the assurance that any future growth will be delivered in a measured and sustainable way," he said.

"In addition to our on-site trade union, Visit East of England and the local chambers, hundreds of local residents, businesses, staff and on-site partners have passionately backed these plans and we continue to encourage councillors to follow the advice they have received from both their officers and independent legal counsel and issue the airport's planning permission."

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