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22 February, 2018 - 11:50 By Tony Quested

Ryanair boss backs Stansted plan to boost capacity and create 5,000 new jobs

Stansted Airport new arrivals building

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, has backed plans by Stansted Airport to raise the current cap on the number of passengers it is allowed to serve from 35 million passengers a year to 43 million using the existing runway over the next decade.

Airport bosses have submitted the relevant planning application to Uttlesford District Council and pledged to remain within current approved limits on aircraft noise and flight numbers.

O’Leary has supported Stansted’s case that the expansion move would deliver significant economic benefits to the UK and the vibrant East of England region, create 5,000 new on-site jobs, improve passenger choice and convenience and boost international long-haul routes to fast-growing markets like China, India and the US.

The application will also ease pressure on the London airport system by unlocking additional capacity at a time when other airports are full.

Detailed analysis included in the planning application demonstrates how the ongoing introduction of the next generation of new quieter aircraft will ensure that future passenger growth can be achieved without increasing the number of flights or noise footprint already permitted.

For example, the new Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320 Neo aircraft currently being brought into service by Ryanair and easyJet are up to 50 per cent quieter than the aircraft they are replacing.

In the five years since MAG acquired Stansted, annual passenger numbers have increased by nearly 10 million to 26mppa. This growth has been delivered through a 25 per cent increase in destinations served by the airport (190) and a doubling of the number of airlines using the airport (22). Stansted is the best-connected UK airport for flights to Europe and during 2018 will see a rapid expansion of its long-haul route network with services being added to New York, Boston, Toronto, Washington DC and Dubai and the 150 onward destinations it offers.

Stansted now anticipates reaching its current cap of 35mppa by the early 2020s and in order for the airport to build on its momentum and provide long term clarity to airlines wanting to use its facilities, now is the right time to consider the framework for its growth beyond the current limit.

MAG has also invested heavily in the facilities at Stansted Airport, spending £150m on improving the passenger experience. Recently, work began on the second phase of Stansted’s transformation – a five-year, £600 million construction programme that will see a new arrivals building and conversion of the existing terminal into a dedicated departing passenger-only facility.

Stansted has committed to ensuring that its growth provides long term benefits for its local communities and an on-site educational facility, the Aerozone, has already welcomed nearly 10,000 young people in the two years since it opened.

Later this year, an £11 million on-site further education college will also open and provide hundreds of students with a host of skills relevant for careers in the aviation, engineering, and hospitality industries.

Stansted Airport CEO Ken O’Toole, said: “Over the past six months we have consulted widely on our future growth plans and based on the feedback from these discussions, we’ve made sure our growth can be achieved within current limits on flight numbers and with no increase in the size of the airport’s noise footprint. This is good news for local residents.

“In addition, thousands more local jobs will be created and our long-haul connectivity to fast-growing markets like China, USA and India will receive a real boost.

“The recent announcement by Emirates that it will begin daily services to Dubai, in addition to Primera Air launching flights to New York, Boston, Washington and Toronto this year, is a clear statement of what the airport can achieve and we are talking to a range of airlines who are looking to grow their operations at Stansted.

“It is vital for the region that Stansted is able to build on its momentum and the long-term proposals that we have outlined will enable us to do this and more importantly, provide the local community with confidence that future growth can be delivered in a measured and sustainable way.”

The application will also seek permission for additional airfield infrastructure within the current airfield boundary, comprising two new links to the runway, six additional stands on the mid airfield and three additional stands at the north eastern end of the Airport.

Michael O’Leary added: “London Stansted Airport continues to grow strongly under the ownership of MAG, where Ryanair’s traffic has grown from 13.2m customers in 2013 to over 21m this year with over 140 routes.

“Stansted’s potential and spare capacity remains untapped so it’s vital to make best and efficient use of the existing infrastructure to provide more growth opportunities and greater value for consumers at a time when runway capacity is more constrained in the south-east of England, and in light of the challenges Brexit may bring.” 

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