Stansted boss Andrew Harrison hails airport’s transformation

Andrew Harrison, managing director at Stansted Airport.

Andrew Harrison, managing director at Stansted Airport. - Credit: Archant

The managing director of Stansted Airport today hailed its contribution to an increase in first half revenues and profits at parent company Manchester Airports Group (MAG).

Andrew Harrison, who took over following the airport’s acquisition by MAG in February 2013, said the number of airlines operating from Stansted had increased from 11 to 19 since the change of ownership, in addition to new agreements with established carriers such as Ryanair.

Passengers numbers at Stansted during the six months to September 30 grew by 11.9% compared with last year’s first half to 11.3million, ahead of the average 8.5% growth achieved across the group which also includes Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports.

And Stansted’s earnings grew by 11.4% to £66m, compared with an 8.7% increase across the group as a whole.

“This is a good set of results for the group and for Stansted to be central to that is great,” said Mr Harrison. “It is good for the team here, after six years of not great passenger numbers, and there are people walking a bit taller today, which is fantastic.”

A total of 160 destinations, in 30 different countries, were served from Stansted during the first half, with the top five routes being Dublin, Rome, Barcelona, Palma and Pisa.

However, Mr Harrison says that growth is also being driven MAG’s investment in improved facilities at Stansted, with the main terminal being reconfigured to meet the changing demands of airport travel.

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New check-in and security areas were completed in time for Christmas 2013 while this year has seen the opening of a new duty free and “essentials” retail area and a Next store which ranks as the fashion retailer’s largest at any UK airport.

Between now and February a new catering area will be completed, with Burger King already open and a Leon restaurant and a relocated Starbucks coffee shop due to follow shortly.

Once the new food offer is fully in place, existing catering facilities will be demolished to make way of a new “high street’ retail area, due to be completed next October.

However, although several months’ more work remains, Mr Harrison said that the worst was now over in terms of noise and disruption for passengers using the airport.

Not that the changes at Stansted are confined to the main terminal. Mr Harrison said that, while the airport remained committed to encouraging passengers to arrive by public transport, the new management had also sought to make better use of the airport’s 35,000 car park spaces.

From being less than two-thirds full even at peak times, car parking had reached 95% of capacity this summer thanks to an average 20% cut in prices – which had previously made it cheaper for many people to use taxis – and the introduction of a “meet and greet” service.

The airport was also spending £10m to improve one of the satellites from which passengers board their planes in order to help attract long-haul carriers, in line with MAG’s objectives for Stansted and demand expressed by businesses groups within the region, Mr Harrison added.