Business chiefs welcome Stansted plans

BUSINESS leaders have welcomed the new plans for a second runway and terminal at Stansted Airport - although airlines, including Ryanair, called for the scheme to be halted and threatened court action.

By Annie Davidson

BUSINESS leaders have welcomed the new plans for a second runway and terminal at Stansted Airport - although airlines, including Ryanair, called for the scheme to be halted and threatened court action.

As airport operator BAA said it had reduced the amount of land needed by 22%, Essex Chambers of Commerce hailed the plans as “important strategic investment in the future of the county.”

John Clayton, chief executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: “A second runway at Stansted means Essex will remain an attractive place to do business and provide a big boost for jobs, inbound tourism, inward investment and the future economic prosperity of the county.”

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Increasing air capacity at Stansted would cement economic growth and prosperity for the county's future, Mr Clayton added.

The East of England Confederation of British Industry said Stansted Airport's revised second runway plans were vital in ensuring the region remained “open for business”.

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CBI director Richard Tunnicliffe said: “Multinational firms across the region are located here because of the access to international markets provided by Stansted Airport.”

The East of England Institute of Directors said the plans would generate £9 billion for the national economy and help tackle congestion that would cost businesses £6 billion if more air capacity was not provided.

Chairman Jerry Golland said: “The East of England needs an expanded airport to continue its economic development and to attract more world class business and new entrepreneurs in areas such as technology, pharmaceuticals and bio-science.

“The region is ambitious to grow its economy, currently worth £100 billion and a new runway is key to assisting this growth.”

But budget airline Ryanair, which is Stansted's largest airline customer, called on the BAA regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority to reject the plan.

It said: “Ryanair and the other airline users at Stansted are opposed to this gold plated design.

“The airlines believe that the second runway and terminal can and should be built for less than £1billion, less than half the BAA monopoly's figure.

“The airlines' plan would also require just 200 hectares of Essex countryside, thereby reducing by more than 50% the unnecessary land grab proposed by the BAA.”

Ryanair's chief executive officer, Michael O'Leary, added: “This will lead to a doubling of the already high passenger charges at Stansted and will be a double whammy for British passengers and visitors on top of Gordon Brown's £10 airport tax, which starts on Thursday.

“The second runway and terminal plans submitted by the airlines would cost less than half the monies proposed by the BAA monopoly and do away with an increase in passenger charges.

“Its about time that the CAA, which is supposed to regulate the BAA monopoly, in the interests of its users, put a stop to this waste and overspending and forced the BAA Stansted to build facilities which the airline customers want and its passengers will use.

“Ryanair will oppose these plans during the planning process and if necessary in the courts.”

Budget airline Easyjet backed Ryanair's stance and chief executive Andy Harrison said: “Today's plans are little better than any of the other plans BAA has put on the table in the last couple of years at Stansted.”

The chief executive of the Airport Operators' Association, Keith Jowett, said: “We have noted the comments to various others in the industry and beyond.

“Of course we fully support the need for development of the airports in line with the Government's long-term policies.

“We hope this will enable an early opportunity to see progress of the matter and I think we want to say we are pleased to note Stephen Nelson's (BAA chief executive) comments about working with the local community.”

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