| Press Release - 10 February 2009
BAA LIVING IN A WALTER MITTY WORLD
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) has accused BAA of living in a Walter Mitty world of make believe as passenger numbers and flights at Stansted Airport fell for the fifteenth consecutive month according to figures announced today (10 February).
Five years of growth have now been wiped out by a combination of the economic downturn and BAA's 2007 decision to double Stansted landing charges to its biggest airline customers.
Stansted handled fewer flights last month than in any month in the past six years and SSE estimates that this year Stansted will handle just 155,000 flights - down 20,000 on current levels. This is only half the capacity of the existing runway, demonstrating the illogicality and fantasy-based business strategy of BAA in pushing ahead with its planning application for a second runway, due to be considered at a Public Inquiry beginning on 15 April.
SSE has written to the Secretary of State Hazel Blears calling for the Public Inquiry to be postponed, pointing out that with Stansted Airport in such rapid decline there is no conceivable reason for haste. In addition the Competition Commission is expected to confirm within the next month that BAA must sell Stansted, throwing the Public Inquiry process into confusion.
BAA's plans for a second runway are opposed not only by SSE but also by the local councils and even its own major customers at Stansted, Ryanair and easyJet who together account for over 80 per cent of Stansted's business. Against such opposition BAA's prospects for winning approval at the Public Inquiry are bound to be slim - as are the chances of any new owner of Stansted taking them forward even if permission were granted.
To compound BAA's difficulties, if there were to be a change of Government at the next general election, which must take place before June next year, both the main opposition parties are committed to scrapping any plans for a second Stansted runway.
SSE Campaign Director Carol Barbone said: "BAA is living in a Walter Mitty world, being frivolous and irresponsible with other people's money since a Public Inquiry won't come cheap for any of the parties. The cost to council taxpayers in Herts and Essex alone could be more than £2m."
Ms Barbone concluded: "It's time for BAA to wake up to reality and put an end to the blight and uncertainty that has dogged this community for years."
NOTE TO EDITORS
Stansted traffic figures can be viewed on BAA's website
Carol Barbone, Campaign Director, SSE: M 0777 552 3091, firstname.lastname@example.org