Airport faces 'crisis like never before' after Covid
- Credit: Archant
Stansted Airport has said it faces "a crisis on a scale like never before" after the coronavirus pandemic dramatically reduced passenger numbers.
The Essex airport today marks its 30th anniversary after its iconic terminal building was officially opened by The Queen on March 15, 1991.
But the milestone is a bittersweet moment for London Stansted, with Covid-19 causing one of the biggest challenges in its history - as all but essential flights are grounded.
It would usually welcome 28million passengers a year and fly to 200 global destinations. The pandemic has seen that fall to levels not seen since 1994.
The government has published a roadmap out of lockdown which should see all social restrictions lifted by the summer, provided infection levels stay low.
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But the airport says there is continuing uncertainty over when foreign travel might restart - and has called on the government to establish a framework to get more flights in the air during May.
Steve Griffiths, London Stansted’s managing director, said: “London Stansted has a long and proud history, and to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of our iconic terminal building, a building that has undoubtedly stood the test of time, is another great milestone on the airport’s journey.
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“While the modern Stansted has been at the forefront of the revolution in air travel over past three decades, we currently face a crisis on a scale like never before.
"Passenger numbers are almost back at the same levels as when we first opened, but we know there is demand from the millions of travellers who start and end their journeys through our doors each year.
“That is why it is more important than ever that the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce acts quickly to establish a framework for the restart of international travel in May.
“Stansted has helped create so many fantastic memories for our passengers and our highly valued colleagues over the years, 70 of whom have been with us since we welcomed the Queen all those years ago.
“We can’t wait to welcome back our passengers to begin the next 30 years of Stansted’s story, and we are confident the airport has a very bright and successful future once people are able to start planning for their well-deserved summer getaways.”
History of Stansted Airport
An airfield that began life as a Second World War American air force base was transformed into what is today Stansted Airport in 1991.
£400million was spent on "world-class infrastructure" which included a new terminal building.
In the last 30 years, the terminal has been extended twice - including a £50m extension to the arrivals area that opened in 2008.
The Manchester Airports Group bought Stansted Airport in 2013, with the terminal getting an £80m transformation along with an £11m upgrade to the Satellite One departures area.
Earlier this year, the installation of a new £60m hi-tech baggage system beneath the terminal was completed ahead of schedule after nearly four years of complex work.
Budget flyer Ryanair has continued to rapidly expand its operation at Stansted, while new airlines such as Jet2.com and Emirates have also started flights from Essex.