21st March 2022


As most local residents will have noticed, the days of relatively quiet skies are coming to an end as air travel slowly recovers, in line with the relaxation of Covid restrictions.

It’s worth recapping just how badly the industry has been affected by the pandemic. Stansted handled just over 28 million passengers in 2019 but this fell to 7.5 million in 2020 and to just 7.1 million last year – barely a quarter of the pre-pandemic number.

Airlines were predicting a rapid post-Covid recovery, claiming that there was enormous pent-up demand from people who had not had a foreign holiday for two years.

However, it seems that many people are still cautious about overseas travel.  With almost all restrictions lifted, Stansted’s passenger numbers in February were still 40% below pre-Covid levels.

Meanwhile, the huge increase in the price of oil has increased ticket prices and the conflict in Ukraine has dampened the demand for flights to Eastern Europe.

Nevertheless, many people are convinced that there are more night flights than ever before.  The statistics don’t actually show this but a large proportion of night flights are cargo freighters and these have been largely unaffected by the pandemic. They have remained steady at about 900 a month.

Cargo airlines tend to use large noisy aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and these are often older models, which are noisier still, especially when taking-off and when landing using reverse thrust.

Night flying compounds the noise impacts on local residents and causes sleep disturbance because we live in a rural environment where ambient noise levels (apart from the airport) are very low.

If you are disturbed by a noisy aircraft, you should always try to report this because it can lead to the airline being fined and, longer term, it can lead to the phasing out of the noisiest aircraft and even to the realignment of flight paths.  It only takes a few minutes to register an aircraft noise complaint.  Simply go to https://stanstedairportwatch.com/take-action/report-noisy-aircraft/

Campaigning to ensure Stansted Airport's authorised operations stay below harmful limits