21st October 2003
BAA Figures Wrong – Civil Aviation Authority Report Reveals
Recent claims by BAA that nine out of ten passengers using Stansted are ‘local’ have been proved completely false with the release of new information [see Note 1] by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), prompting fresh criticism of the airport operator by Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE).
The latest CAA figures, published last week, would have been known to BAA at the time they made their claims last month [see Note 2] about local use of the airport, making the attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes by overplaying the significance of the airport to the local community even more scandalous according to campaigners.
In reality, a quarter of all passengers using Stansted are foreign residents and about the same proportion are from Greater London. Only one in five of Stansted passengers comes from the local counties of Hertfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire or Suffolk. Even if Norfolk and Bedfordshire are tacked on as part of the local region, the proportion of local users still only increases to one in four.
“It is very revealing to see how desperate BAA is becoming on the issue of who uses Stansted Airport,” said SSE campaign director Carol Barbone. “The company is running scared of the fact that the forthcoming White Paper on the future of air transport might actually respond to the needs of those who want to travel from airports near to where they live rather than travelling miles and miles to get to Stansted.”
Stop Stansted Expansion has called on the government to develop a better regional balance for air travel in the White Paper, due for publication before Christmas. With almost two thirds of all UK air travel presently concentrated in the South East and East of England (where only one third of the population live), the government should, the campaign group believes, aim to reduce this concentration to 50%, so that the benefits as well as the impacts of aviation are more equitably balanced across the United Kingdom.
This would clearly have implications for BAA’s monopoly position which accounts for 93 percent of passengers in the south east where it owns Gatwick, Heathrow, Southampton and Stansted Airports.
The CAA statistics also show that 79% of all Stansted business are leisure passengers and only 21% are business passengers.
Note 1: CAA Passenger Origin Statistics for 2002 for both scheduled and charter flights from Stansted, based on interviews with a statistical sample of departing passengers, published 14October 2003. As a co-sponsor of the CAA passenger survey, BAA would have been in possession of these figures months before their publication.
Note 2: Press release PR56/03 issued by BAA 12 September 2003