Second phase of £80m Stansted Airport development officially opened

left to right): Andrew Harrison, Managing Director Stansted Airport; Charlie Cornish, MAG Chief Exec

left to right): Andrew Harrison, Managing Director Stansted Airport; Charlie Cornish, MAG Chief Executive; Beth Brewster, MAG Retail Director - Credit: Archant

Phase two of an £80million project to transform restaurants on offer at Stansted Airport was officially opened yesterday, amid hopes the improved offer will attract long-haul airlines to the transport hub.

Stansted Airport phase two launch. Picture: Hywel Barrett

Stansted Airport phase two launch. Picture: Hywel Barrett - Credit: Archant

A total of 12 new bars, cafes and restaurants were unveiled within the Essex airport by Charlie Cornish, chief executive of the Manchester Airport Group (MAG).

Restaurants range from fast food outlets such as Burger King and a £2.7m revamped JD Wetherspoon pub complete with mezzanine floor looking over the runway, to the first-ever James Martin Kitchen – a bakery set up by the celebrity chef, who was at the launch event – and the Halo champagne bar.

The new offering, which has created around 300 new jobs, follows earlier work to upgrade and expand the security area and improve the retail offering for passengers travelling through the airport.

Also included in the revamp are more departure boards allowing passengers to keep up-to-date on their flights throughout the terminal and charging points.

Andrew Harrison, managing director of the airport, said the new offering was a vital component in efforts to attract a scheduled long-haul route to the airport.

“As an airport we are looking to appeal to all different airlines and all different customer segments – though that is not to say that people travelling on low budget airlines are low budget travellers,” he said.

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“We still think we will be at 30 million passengers in the next decade, and over the past 12 months we have been the fastest growing airport in the UK.

“We are in detailed conversations with a number of airlines about more long-haul flights, and if they don’t already fly here we have got to convince them Stansted is the next best place in the world to fly from.

“That includes showing them the strength of the area including Essex and Suffolk. Our part of the world is really a unique opportunity and it has not been presented to the long-haul companies in that way before.

“By 2016 we are pretty hopeful we will be able to announce something.

“They are making a multi-million pound decision on a scarce resource, an aircraft, and if they don’t fill the flights it is their loss.

“But investment from us into things like this sets the foundation.”

He added the biggest challenge of the project was completing the work while passenger numbers grew at the single terminal airport, which first thing in the morning is the busiest in Europe.

Two charter carriers, Thomas Cook and Thomson, are already running flights to Mexico and the USA this summer.

Beth Brewster, MAG retail director, said more than 70 tenders were made for the 12 units, with a similar level of interest for the third phase of development which will see a further 16 retail units open before Christmas – describing it as “one of the best headaches I have had in my career”.

She added: “We have tried to make sure we offer something for everybody, across tastes and budgets.”

The first phase of a second project to develop one of the satellite terminals will be completed in the autumn.