London Stansted airport has received planning approval for its major extension of its terminal.
Under the scheme, which will be seamlessly bolted on to the existing Norman Foster-designed modular building, a three bay extension will be added to the rear of the current structure.
You can see it here:
Yay, more shops!
The airport is promising:
a more spacious departure lounge, with additional seating, a greater choice of shops, bars and restaurants, state-of-the-art check-in desks, increased baggage capacity and a larger security hall with more security lanes equipped with next-generation scanners.
There is no mention of new lounge facilities, but it would be crazy if such a substantial extension did not include replacing or adding to the existing overrun Escape Lounge. (Our last review of the Escape Lounge is here.)
Stansted has served 26 million passengers in the last 12 months and is expected to pass its pre-pandemic passenger level this year. The airport has not been a one way growth story – passenger numbers hit 23 million in 2007 but then started a sharp decline, bottoming out at 17 million in 2012.
This is very much Plan B
Back in 2018, Stansted submitted plans to build two new taxiway links to the existing runway and nine additional aircraft stands. This was designed to lift airport capacity to 274,000 aircraft movements and 43 million passengers.
The plans also included a brand new Arrivals building, separate from the existing terminal. This would have made Stansted the only UK airport to have departing and arriving passengers using separate facilities:
After an acrimonious legal battle, which involved the local authority approving and then attempting to withdraw permission, the decision was settled on appeal in favour of the airport.
However, post pandemic, it appears that the airport is no longer going forward with the taxiways, additional stands or separate Arrivals building. The airport Managing Director said in the summer that:
the terminal extension is an important part of our plans for making best use of Stansted’s existing capacity
What may be driving the extension is the move to larger aircraft by its major customers, which will increase passenger volumes without increasing aircraft movements. Ryanair, for example, has just placed a major order for Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft. With 228 seats, these have 16% more seats than the MAX 8200 aircraft currently being delivered.
Commenting on the planning decision, Gareth Powell, London Stansted’s MD, said:
“Our plans will transform the airport experience for everyone connected with London Stansted, so today’s decision by the Planning Inspectorate to approve our scheme is excellent news for our passengers, colleagues, airport partners and the region we serve.
Stansted is now entering a new phase in its history, as we look to serve more passengers than ever before. Our unique and growing route network, and easy access to and from London and the east of England, is a fantastic platform to build on. We know Stansted will have a critical role to play in serving the future capacity needs of London.
Being a single terminal airport enables us to offer the millions of passengers who choose us each year a simple, efficient and reliable experience when they fly. This is something they clearly value and enjoy when choosing which airport to use, so they can be confident our plans will build on this success and make every airport journey even better in the future.
Stansted is a national and regional asset, and our investment plans are not only an exciting prospect for our passengers and colleagues, they will also boost our competitiveness within the London aviation market, which in turn will support economic growth, jobs and vital international connectivity for London and the East of England.
Our aim is to be the airport of choice for even more passengers, and we are confident we can achieve that goal by further enhancing our facilities and attracting even more airlines to the airport to provide the best range of destinations.”
Work on the extension is expected to begin next summer and take three years to complete.