Stansted Airport has always been a bit neglected. Nestled in the Essex countryside, 40 miles from the centre of London, his fortune was tied to the low-cost airline revolution of the 90s and particularly its largest customer Ryanair.
It is synonymous with bleary-eyed early starts, cheap flights and pre-6 o’clock pints.
Its more global and glamorous sisters, Heathrow and Gatwick, have long tussled over who should take the ultimate next step and get the right to build another track.
Stansted, on the other hand, has been busy with his own, more immediate practical business of cleaning the cheap flights across Europe to be the destination of Timisoara in western Romania.
But is Stansted now to become your own Cinderella story?
The runaway growth
The airport demand patterns of Stansted is to London, the fastest-growing airport with more than 10.8 million airline seats available this summer, 1.2 million more than the summer of 2017.
According to them, Stansted growth will surpass all other airports of London, with an increase of 12.1%, a year-on-year increase in demand for runway slots, compared to 1.4% at Heathrow, and 2.1% at Gatwick.
Stansted airport will welcome five new airlines this year – Primera Air, Emirates, WOW air, Air Corsica and recommended, which flights – serving destinations ranging from New York, Washington, Boston and Toronto, Dubai, Corsica, Reykjavik and Kristiansand (Norway).
The airport will also be transformed with a new £130 million, of the arrivals terminal.
The 34,000-square-foot (365,972 sq ft), three-level building will be constructed next to the current terminal and should be completed by 2021.
“Stansted is now located in a geographic sweet spot for the times in London, which is expanding to the north and to the east in the direction of the airport, and the dynamics of the East Anglian region,” says Ken O’toole, chief executive of Stansted Airport.
“This, coupled with constraints on runway capacity elsewhere in the South-East, means that we expect our passenger numbers to 35 million per year in the early 2020s.” Upgrade retail
So what is behind Stansted thrust?
The airport property has changed hands in 2013, during the BAA was forced to sell Stansted following a ruling by the Competition Commission.
Since then, its new owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has spent £150m upgrade of the Norman Foster-designed terminal with a focus on improving its retail space.
The airport now earning £6.20 per passenger of non-aviation revenue, primarily, the retail and car parking – more than £5.40 it is not the flights themselves.
But this is not just the stores that are to attract new airlines such as the low-cost Latvian airline, Primera, which starts a new long-haul service to New York on Thursday.
“Stansted allows us to grow,” explains Anastasija Visnakova, Primera’s chief commercial officer.
“London to New York is one of the greatest roads in the world,” she said. The demand of people who wish to travel is simply infinite, and for profit, “you just have to be there at the right time, at the right time, with the right tools”.More routes?
But Stansted has dabbled and failed with the long-haul flights before.
Another low-cost carrier, Air Asia X, began a service of Essex in Kuala Lumpur in 2009, but it closed two years later. Two transatlantic business class only airlines, Eos and MaxJet, have also failed to from Stansted.
“Perhaps it was not the right time for these companies. But I would not bet against new pathways back to Stansted,” said Ms. Visnakova – which suggests that his company is watching the launch of new flights to different continents from Stansted.
“The passenger flow has increased everywhere in the world. It is great. There are people who travel today that we never thought would be travelling a year ago. Times are changing, hardware is changing, technology is changing.
“Aviation is becoming more affordable and the choice of routes, with the law of the intelligence behind them will succeed.”
Analysis, John Strickland, aviation expert
I worked at Stansted between 1990-2003, for KLM UK subsidiary, Air UK, which launched a network of national and European services. Later, we created the Buzz, a low-cost airline, which has added more European destinations.
The 90s have seen a few false starts with several major European airlines test the services of their mainland hubs, but nothing sustainable. There was even a short-lived Chicago service operated by American Airlines.
The airport was not as well known as it is today and it took the massive growth by low-cost carriers to put it firmly on the map. That access has improved further and other airports become more congested, Stansted can now support more diverse services.
The arrival of Emirates, in particular, is a real vote of confidence. The airline’s powerful Dubai, a hub to provide worldwide access to the airport’s growing catchment area. Emirates includes the benefits that Stansted offers.
The growth of technology and the pharmaceutical industry, around Cambridge and easy access to the North London, Essex, East anglia and the Midlands will have all the support the selective growth of the airport. While Stansted does not become another Heathrow, it has a growing role to play.
Stansted is the biggest opportunity lies in its ability to reserve.
“Heathrow is full, Gatwick airport is just about complete, if someone wants to grow in London, we have the ability to do so,” says Ken O’toole.
Gatwick is the second busiest single airport runway in the world, after Mumbai and handles $ 45.7 million passengers per year.
Stansted, on the other hand, currently, the handles of 26.1 million dollars, but a “plan” cap-limits the number of passengers to 35 million dollars per year. He has recently applied to extend this measure to $ 43 million.
“When MAG acquired Stansted from BAA in 2013, it would be fair to say that the airport had a lot of untapped potential. Almost five years later, and after having introduced a new ambition for the airport, we have a real momentum and we expect continued strong growth in the number of passengers.”