30th January 2013

New air traffic forecasts show no case for Stansted expansion

New air traffic forecasts just published (29 January 2013) by the Department for Transport (DfT) reveal that even in 2050 Stansted would be able to meet all its market demand without any need for a second runway.

For Stansted, which handled 17.5 million passengers last year, the DfT predicts unconstrained demand of 26 million passengers in 2030 and of 38 million passengers in 2050.

The figures, provided as part of an overall picture of predicted demand for UK air travel show that for the UK as a whole, demand for air travel will grow from 221 million passengers last year to just 320 million passengers a year in 2030, a growth rate of just two per cent a year, compared to average annual growth of five per cent over the past 40 years. The DfT cites the main reasons for the slowdown as higher oil prices, market maturity and an end to the days when air fares were becoming cheaper, year on year.

Welcoming the downward revision in the DfT forecasts, Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) Chairman Peter Sanders said: “These new official Government forecasts are far more credible than anything we have seen before, and far less threatening. They show that even in 2050, Stansted would be able to meet all its market demand without any need for a second runway.”

The new DfT forecasts are also very much in line with the aspirations of Stansted’s new owners, Manchester Airport Group (MAG), whose Chief Executive, Charlie Cornish, has set his sights on restoring Stansted to its 2007 traffic peak within a decade. That would mean a return to an annual throughput of 24 million passengers by 2022.

Mr Sanders continued: “Amidst all the hot air from Boris Johnson about building a four-runway ‘mega-hub’ at Stansted, it’s refreshing to have some realism from the Department for Transport and Stansted’s new owners.” Mr Sanders concluded: “If we can remove the threat of any new runways once and for all, this will lay the foundations for a vastly improved long term relationship with the local community, based on maximising the benefits of the airport and minimising its adverse impacts.”

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