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London Mayor Backs Stansted Expansion

London Mayor Boris Johnson has in the past week announced his support for expansion at Stansted Airport. The vote of support from a leading Tory MP comes in wake of recent debates around the need for additional capacity at Heathrow Airport, London’s primary airport hub.

The Mayor believes that additional capacity at Stansted, even though it is currently only operating at 50% capcity in 2012, would releieve the need for short term capacity in and out of London for the next few years. He does however still maintain that the South East needs a new airport to satisfy longer term demands.

Mayor Johnson, a vocal supported of a new airport in the Thames Estruary, stated that this idea would be a sensible interim solution with the recent investment in place at Stansted and talk of a new high speed Stansted to London link. He believes that the connection could be quicker in to Central London than Heathrow currently [30 mins]. A taxi from Stansted to London takes upto 1 hour!

Hitting back at these claims is Stop Stansted Expansion who state that, “Stansted is only operating at half its permitted capacity in any case. If the market was interested in using Stansted we would be seeing increasing passenger numbers rather than a year on year decline”.

In response a local Stansted businessman stated, “Stansted expansion would be a good thing for the local economy but the ownership debarcle with BAA needs to be settled first. The reason the airport is under capacity is mainly because of the monopolitic position of BAA. Where is the commercial motivation for them to entice airlines to use Stansted when that would be at the cost of Heathrow? The situation is madness, we have all this talk of a new airport needed in the South East when Stansted is ready to go with spare capacity and with excellent links but with falling passengers. Mayor Johnson has at least come off the fence on this whole issue and is now starting to talk sense unlike our local MP Alan Haselhurst who does not seem to recognise the economic benefits that a better run Stansted could offer our local community.”

The debate will continue for sure and the way in which London’s airport’s manage the expected surges in demand during the Olympics will be an interesting test.

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