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Stansted Airport seeks 8m boost to passenger cap

The Essex airport wants to make better use of its runway capacity as part of a five-year, £600m construction project.

Stansted has sought permission to raise its cap on annual passenger numbers by eight million.

The Essex airport wants to make better use of its runway capacity as part of a five-year, £600 million construction project to expand passenger facilities.

Some 26 million people travelled through Stansted last year and airport bosses expect it to hit the current annual cap of 35 million in the next four to five years.

They want the limit raised to 43 million and claim this could be utilised without breaking existing caps on flight numbers and aircraft noise.

Stansted Airport wants to increase its passenger capacity (PA)

Chief executive Ken O’Toole told the Press Association: “We’re unlocking a huge amount of benefits but not seeking to solicit any increase in the sort of things that make people uncomfortable.”

New Boeing 737MAX and Airbus A320neo aircraft being brought into service by Ryanair and easyJet are up to 50% quieter than the planes they are replacing.

Stansted believes raising the cap on passenger numbers would create around 5,000 extra jobs at the airport.

Mr O’Toole said he is “confident” that Uttlesford District Council will approve the planning application submitted on Thursday.

Reaching 43 million passengers would put Stansted just behind the UK’s second busiest airport, Gatwick, which welcomed 45.6 million passengers last year.

Stansted will be the fastest growing airport in London in 2018 CEO Ken O'Toole

Mr O’Toole believes Stansted can ease the demand for slots at airports in the South East, with a third runway at Heathrow not expected to be operational until at least 2025.

“Stansted will be the fastest growing airport in London in 2018,” he said.

“Our competitors in London are capacity constrained.

“They’re finding it very difficult to provide additional capacity for airlines that want to grow and serve the South East.

“We’re confident we provide a solution at this challenging time.”

Mr O’Toole claimed a lot of the potential of the airport has been “unlocked” since it was bought by Manchester Airports Group in 2013.

Annual passenger numbers have grown by 10 million and the number of routes has increased by 25% to 190.

The airport’s long-haul network will expand this year to feature New York, Boston, Toronto, Washington DC and Dubai.

Asked about potential future routes, Mr O’Toole replied that his team are having discussions in countries such as China, India and the US, with both full-service and low-cost operators.

He added: “Airlines will recognise that Stansted is the only major airport in London with available capacity probably for the next 10 to 15 years.

“London demand will not go away. It will continue to grow and that puts us in a very strong position.”

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