Shock as airline axes Stansted US flights

A SHOCK decision by a major international airline to scrap its transatlantic service from Stansted Airport has led to renewed calls for a review of expansion plans at the site.

Annie Davidson

A SHOCK decision by a major international airline to scrap its transatlantic service from Stansted Airport has led to renewed calls for a review of expansion plans at the site.

American Airlines announced yesterday it would no longer be operating its Stansted to New York flights as of July 2 blaming high fuel prices and the poor economy.

Stansted Airport's strategy and solutions director, Nick Barton, said he was “disappointed” by the announcement which came just seven months after the service was launched but remained confident it could develop long haul operations at the airport in the future.

Airport owners BAA want to build a second runway at Stansted which could see homes and businesses demolished in nearby villages to make room for the development.

However, Carol Barbone, spokeswoman for Stop Stansted Expansion campaign said the announcement was a “significant blow” to BAA's aspirations for the development of Stansted Airport.

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“It comes at a time of six consecutive months of falling passenger numbers with no appetite for the scale of expansion BAA have clearly being hoping for because of the economic situation and oil prices.”

She added BAA would be “foolhardy” not to review the expansion plans in the light of the announcement.

And Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex County Council and a member of the CO2 Group (councils opposed to 2nd runway), echoed her view.

He said: “There is now a real need for a frank discussion over the consequences of expanding the infrastructure for air travel as the government is wont to do.”

American Airlines said the decision was among the first of a number of reductions to its flight schedules but it would continue to provide its full flight schedule between Heathrow and New York.

Mr Barton said: “We're obviously disappointed by today's announcement from American Airlines that it plans to cease its Stansted operations in July.

“Today's decision is reflective of the global situation, especially relating to rising oil prices and the current economic environment, and is part of a number of cutbacks being made by American Airlines across its domestic and international network.

“We continue to work closely with airlines keen to commence services from Stansted and with those already here looking to further develop their existing European networks.

“Let there be no mistake, we remain confident in the prospects for the development of long-haul operations at Stansted.”