Air Transport World

The LCC airport: London Stansted was built for full-service carriers but is dominated by budget airlines.(Airports)

SOME WEEKS BEFORE THE hectic holiday travel period, a British newspaper headlined an article on two of London's airports, "Wonder: Stansted airport ... Blunder: Heathrow airport."

While the article's author confined his critique to architectural styles, applauding the enlightening structure of Stansted and condemning the claustrophobic feel of Heathrow, Stansted is a "wonder" in other ways as well. It has positioned itself as the darling for Europe's crowd of budget airlines and as such its growth has outpaced most of its counterparts in the UK--including Heathrow and Gatwick--and on the continent as well. In the 12 months through last Nov. 30, the airport with its single runway handled 20.8 million passengers and 177,392 aircraft movements. A decade earlier it accommodated barely 3.3 million passengers and 75,300 movements. Cargo rose 13.4% to 225,582 tonnes in the rolling 12 months ended Nov. 30, overtaking Gatwick, which handled 216,764 tonnes.

According to figures provided by BAA, which owns the airports, STN consistently has recorded the fastest passenger growth of the trio over the past decade with an annual compounded rise of more than 20%. It now is the UK's fourth-largest airport in passenger numbers while ACI Europe identified it as Europe's fastest-growing among airports handling more than 10 million passengers in the 2000-2003 period. …

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