10th October 2002

Jumbo Jets to be lured to Stansted

The Government expects that some 40 per cent of Heathrow’s long haul flights and scheduled services will be lured to Stansted if even one of the proposed three extra runways is built – causing a massive influx of 747 jumbo jets and the new ‘double decker’ Airbus planes as a result.

The news is revealed in one of the 65 background documents which have been prepared by Government consultants Halcrow as part of proposals which could make Stansted the world’s biggest airport through the addition of up to three new runways. Worryingly, even with the addition of just one runway taking increased passenger capacity to 82 million passengers per year Stansted would become larger than Heathrow is today within just nine years.

The SERAS (South East Regional Airport Studies) report makes it clear that “With two runways being available in 2011. the services assumed to be relocated to Stansted are 40 per cent of Heathrow’s long haul and USA scheduled services.” [source: page 269, para 9.3.3 – SERAS Stage Two Appraisal Findings – Halcrow].

However, the report fails to explain how existing users of Heathrow will be tempted to give up their lucrative take off and landing slots and move to Stansted, but inducements including subsidies and waived airport charges would almost certainly be used to kick start long haul and US air traffic at Stansted through the process known as ‘seeding’. This would enable the airport to be developed into a ‘hub’ airport offering an interchange for short and long haul aircraft between the UK, Europe and rest of the world. At least one airline alliance is known to be interested in moving to Stansted, although British Airways has expressed disinterest. At present, apart from Heathrow, there are only three other hub airports in Europe, at Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt.

A table within this same SERAS document puts the number of long haul and USA scheduled services initially being transferred at an average 135 landings and 135 take-offs per day. At present, jumbos use Stansted only occasionally.

Campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion is warning local people that the addition of even one extra runway will therefore create significant extra noise and put extreme pressure on the local community during the construction phase when roads are expanded or built, and car parking, hotels and other airport related services is put in place.

Said Peter Gowan, Deputy Chairman, Stop Stansted Expansion: “If expansion is approved then we will face the prospect of a mammoth building programme which could start in the next five years in order to increase capacity on the roads and rail network and mirror the scale of Heathrow in the East of England. This is a frightening move which if allowed to go unopposed will mean that not only will jumbo jets dominate local skies, causing misery and intrusion in the lives of around one million people, but we will also suffer the loss of irreplaceable countryside resulting from related development of the transport network and airport services.”

“It is important that everyone affected by the expansion, from Uttlesford, East Hertfordshire, and Harlow to Braintree, Colchester and Chelmsford, puts their views in writing to both their constituency MP and to the Department of Transport so that the nightmare doesn’t become reality,” he concluded.

Campaigning against proposals to expand Stansted Airport