STANSTED Airport has returned to growth last year for the first time since the recession, with annual traffic up 2.2 per cent to 17.8m passengers.
The airport said yesterday it took 1.3m passengers in December, up 7.7 per cent on the previous year and the fourth consecutive month of rising traffic.
Manchester Airports Group bought Stansted from Heathrow owner BAA for £1.5bn last year, following a competition commission ruling. The airport focuses on short haul travel to Europe but hopes to attract long-haul carriers as part of MAG’s growth plans.
“December’s traffic results are a clear indication that Stansted is back and successfully competing with other London airports,” said managing director Andrew Harrison.
“We now expect the airport to enter a period of sustained growth this year following the signing of long-term agreements with both Ryanair and EasyJet.
“[There] are real signs of change after years of declining traffic. With the centre of London’s economy shifting eastwards, we’re determined to maximise Stansted’s potential to drive economic growth and boost the competitiveness of London and the east of England.”
While the airport has not been shortlisted by the government’s aviation commission as a possible site for a new runway, Stansted has plenty of space to expand.
It has the capacity to carry 35m passengers a year using its existing runway. Stansted peaked at almost 24m passengers in 2007 but has been in decline since the financial crisis dampened demand for air travel.
Stansted’s growth follows record traffic at Gatwick and Heathrow for the last year.