Stansted: Airport targets long-haul operators as £80m terminal upgrade continues

Karen Smart, Director of Customer Service at Stansted Airport; Andrew Harrison, Managing Director St

Karen Smart, Director of Customer Service at Stansted Airport; Andrew Harrison, Managing Director Stansted Airport; Beth Brewster, M.A.G Retail Director and Charlie Cornish, MAG Chief Executive - Credit: Archant

Bosses at Stansted Airport aim to get long haul operators on board within the next couple of years as they forge ahead with a major £80million upgrade of its celebrated Norman Foster-designed building.

The nine-store first phase of Stansted Airport’s new international departure lounge, which will include WHSmith, Boots UK, Dixons Travel, Glorious Britain, JD Sports, Rituals, Fat Face and Next, has created an extra 250 full and part-time jobs at the site.

It was officially opened yesterday by owners Manchester Airports Group (MAG) chief executive Charlie Cornish and Stansted managing director Andrew Harrison, following on from the unveiling earlier this year of its new-look security area.

The Essex-based airport is pitching itself as a cheaper alternative for airlines to Heathrow and Gatwick. MAG hopes this will boost its chances of luring lucrative long haul operators to the site. The upgrade, which is improving flow and facilities at the site, is aimed at creating a higher standard of experience to rival that of other international airports.

The new look will create other revenue streams for the airport through the launch of new shops and catering outlets, helping it to drive down costs for the airlines it is hoping to draw in.

The revamp will also bring Stansted facilities further into line with those expected by the major long haul operators.

Mr Cornish said: “When MAG acquired Stansted last year we set out a clear vision to return the airport to growth and improve services and facilities for our passengers.

Most Read

“We are making great progress on our £260m investment programme at Stansted and with the airport once again the fastest growing airport in London, the time to invest in change couldn’t be better.”

The third phase of works will create 13 catering outlets, and the final part in autumn next year will add a further 16 stores.

Mr Harrison said there were three main areas the airlines looked at - catchment, price and airport environment.

MAG was confident that the catchment criteria were met in terms of the airport being in reach of sufficient passenger numbers. The upgrade, which he described as “amazing”, would provide the other two pieces of the jigsaw, he said.

“We are pretty confident that in the next couple of years we’ll see long haul aircraft flying out of the airport,” he said.

“There’s nothing concrete at the moment but we are in good conversations with carriers and from a long haul point of view the conversations are about flying east as well as flying west (to the US).”

Stansted wanted to overturn the myth that low-cost airline users were less discerning that other customers, he said.