3rd May 2005
BAA trims Stansted investment plans
BAA has trimmed its investment programme for Stansted amidst further evidence that the airport’s rate of growth has gone off the boil.
Passenger numbers grew by 9% during the year ended 31 March 2005 compared to 16% in the previous 12 months and the number of aircraft using Stansted increased by just 2% over the year compared to a 7% increase in the previous year.
BAA also published its 10-year passenger forecasts and investment plans for Stansted last week (28 April 2005) where the controversial second runway project is conspicuous by its absence.
The Government’s 2003 White Paper signalled a second Stansted runway by 2011/2012 but the new 10-year forecasts show that Stansted’s existing runway could cope with the expected growth in demand for at least the next 10 years until 2015.
Stansted is not even expected to reach its current planning limit of 25 million passengers a year until 2008/09 whereas this was previously expected to be reached next year. The slowdown has resulted in the investment programme being trimmed from £662m to £550m.
Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) Chairman, Peter Sanders said: “The slowdown at Stansted is further evidence that it is regional airports which are now seeing the most rapid growth in air travel. This allows much needed breathing space at Stansted and there is now ample time for BAA to produce a detailed airport master plan and a full environmental impact assessment before submitting any further planning applications. We must use this breathing space as an opportunity to reflect upon the whole question of further major expansion at Stansted.”
SSE has also called upon BAA to publish details of its latest investment plans for Stansted. “It seems clear that the main reason for the reduced investment programme is the slowdown in growth,” said Mr Sanders, “but there is also a suspicion that BAA is trying to expand Stansted on the cheap, for example, cutting its environmental mitigation and homeowner compensation budgets. The details should be published so that the public can see exactly what’s going on and judge for themselves.”
Recent revelations in the national media of plans by the Heathrow airlines, CBI and trades unions to combine forces to press for a third runway at Heathrow before any new runway at Stansted may add to the pressure on BAA to relegate the Stansted plans to the back burner.