MAG suggests extra runways at Stansted

MANCHESTER Airports Group has proposed turning Stansted airport into a four runway hub, or building a second runway.

The plans form part of MAG’s submission to the Airports Commission which is looking into the best ways to increase capacity in the south east.

MAG bought the airport from BAA in February for £1.5bn.

In a statement MAG chief executive Charlie Cornish said the airport, which has 17.5m passengers a year, could double the number of flights its handles without significant investment.

But an extra runway to the north west would allow for 70-80 million passengers a year, while one to the east could cater for up to 90 million.

It says it would cost £10bn to build four runways, but this does not include the cost of infrastructure such as roads outside the airport. Mr Cornish concedes that increased capacity at a number of airports is likely to be “best for passengers”.

This compares to £14bn-£18bn for adding a third runway at Heathrow or the £50bn associated with a Thames Estuary plan. MAG’s submission also sets out the “crucial role” Manchester Airport can play in meeting national capacity needs.

Mr Cornish said: “Our short-term priority is to make Stansted better for passengers than ever before, and we’ve made major progress in our first four months of ownership, including starting work on an £80m terminal transformation.

“Stansted is uniquely placed to meet the UK’s aviation capacity needs now and over the next 15 years. Almost overnight, Stansted could double the number of flights it handles without any need for significant investment in new infrastructure.

“Looking to the long-term, the interests of passengers will be best served by a pragmatic approach, focused on delivering new capacity that is cost-effective and flexible, and capable of driving competition across the aviation industry.  

“Developing new capacity at a number of airports is likely to be best for passengers. Should the Commission take a different view and conclude that the UK needs an effective hub to provide international connectivity, then Stansted could certainly fulfil that role in a cost-effective way.

“Both options should be considered, but whichever path the commission takes the costs and the environmental impacts of building new capacity at Stansted are likely to be far lower than at alternative locations. From the short term to the long term, Stansted ticks every box.”