Strange silence descends over airport during coronavirus lockdown at what should be peak flying time

Stansted airport during the coronavirus shutdown, taken from a police drone Picture: ESSEX POLICE

Stansted airport during the coronavirus shutdown, taken from a police drone Picture: ESSEX POLICE - Credit: Archant

A police drone has captured eerily quiet footage of Stansted airport during the coronavirus lockdown.

With planes grounded and operations dramatically reduced at what is normally the UK’s fourth business airport, an Essex police drone based at the site was able to launch to get a bird’s eye view during what would normally be peak flying time.

The footage shows almost all the airport’s passenger stands occupied by aircraft which would usually be carrying passengers to around 200 destinations.

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The site has had to find parking spaces for almost 100 aircraft grounded following the pandemic, with a number on the north side of the airfield, which usually houses a busy private and charter aviation operation.

Most airlines have suspended almost all passenger operations, but there are still some flights still operating, with a handful of passenger flights a day from the airport. Its cargo operations continue to bring in vital supplies.

Airlines are using the time to carry out essential maintenance on aircraft and are expected to continue some limited flying to keep their aircraft and crews current for when operations return to normal.

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Operations director Nick Millar said it had been a “challenging time” for the country, and for the aviation sector.

“We have been working hard with our airlines to find space for them to park their planes which would otherwise be flying around the world, given the majority of them have taken the decision to suspend most of their operations for the time being,” he said.

“Usually at this time of year we’d see more than 500 flights a day, but this unprecedented situation means we are faced with a different challenge of ensuring there is space for these aircraft on the ground and that airlines can continue to maintain them.

“This is alongside the cargo operation which continues to bring in essential items like food and pharmaceuticals from around the globe.

“The whole team at the airport have been working hard to adjust our operations to reflect the significant change in demand, while ensuring that London Stansted is ready to return to normal as quickly as possible and play its part in supporting the UK’s recovery once restrictions are lifted.”

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