Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Second Stansted Runway Still Planned

he operator of London Stansted Airport is still planning to build a second runway at the airport.

The British Airports Authority (BAA) said that it is "absolutely committed" to its plans to expand the Essex airport with another runway and a second terminal.

BAA affirming its plans to develop Stansted comes in the wake of speculation last year that the airport group - which operates seven airports around the UK, including the other two major London hubs at Heathrow and Gatwick - is focusing on the plans to expand Heathrow at the expense of Stansted.

A BAA spokesman said: "Make no mistake, BAA is absolutely committed to a second runway at Stansted."

Commenting that BAA had already invested over £130 million into the expansion project at Stansted, the spokesman added: "We believe that we have a strong and compelling case to present [to the planning authorities], and one that will benefit millions of leisure and business travellers in the region."

Planning Application To Be Submitted

BAA said it is now preparing a planning application for the new runway and terminal for submission to local authorities.

Currently, the group is awaiting the result of a public inquiry that was carried out last year into whether the airport will be able to scrap the limit of 25 million passengers per year which Stansted has operated under for some time.

A decision in BAA's favour at the inquiry will permit the group to lodge the application for the new runway and terminal. Such a decision would also allow movements on Stansted's existing runway to be increased.

BAA said it hopes the planning application could be submitted before Easter.

During 2007 Stansted handled over 23 million passengers, according to figures released on 9th January. BAA said the new runway and terminal, if approved, could double the number of passengers at Stansted by 2030.
Local Opposition

However, a local group opposed to the further expansion of Stansted say the airport's development plans may not proceed.

As we reported on Airport International last September, Ferrovial - BAA's Spanish owners - announced they were contemplating selling Stansted along with their other two London airports, Heathrow and Gatwick.

The Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) group believes this is still the case, and that consequently the plans to expand Stansted are "speculative".

SSE campaign director Carol Barbone said: "While BAA is insisting to the local community and the media that it is committed to a second Stansted runway, it is giving a very different message to its bankers and to the Civil Aviation Authority."

In SSE's view, she said, BAA "has told its lenders that its investment plans represent 'an option to build, not a commitment' and it has told the CAA that a second Stansted runway would not be financially viable."

Source - Airport International's Aviation Correspondent

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