15 MARCH 2021


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Article from BTNews 15 MARCH 2021

Stansted celebrates 30 years

It was on Friday 15 March 1991 that HM The Queen officially opened Stansted Airport.  Since that time nearly 460m passengers have passed through the Lord Foster-designed building and 3.95m flights.

Today the airport faces a crisis with a previously projected 30m passengers passing through annually, rather than the 7.5m that used the facility.

Opened in 1943 Stansted was created as a bomber base, RAF Stansted Mountfitchet, predominately used by the USAA Eighth Air Force.  By 1966 it became part of British Airports Authority (BAA) and following a 285-day Public Enquiry in 1985 a go-ahead was given for its development as London’s third airport.  In the meantime, it continued to be used for mainly short-haul services, charter and cargo operations, and executive aircraft use.  BAA was privatised in 1986 and in 2013 sold the airport to Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the present owner.  

In the last 30 years, the terminal has been extended twice – a £50m extension to the arrivals area that opened in 2008, and last year the installation of a new £60m hi-tech baggage system beneath the terminal was completed ahead of schedule after nearly four years of complex work.

Steve Griffiths, the present managing director, said: “London Stansted has a long and proud history, and to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of our iconic terminal building, a building that has undoubtedly stood the test of time, is another great milestone on the airport’s journey.

“While the modern Stansted has been at the forefront of the revolution in air travel over past three decades, we currently face a crisis on a scale like never before.  Passenger numbers are almost back at the same levels as when we first opened, but we know there is demand from the millions of travellers who start and end their journeys through our doors each year.

“That is why it is more important than ever that the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce acts quickly to establish a framework for the restart of international travel in May.

“We can’t wait to welcome back our passengers to begin the next 30 years of Stansted’s story, and we are confident the airport has a very bright and successful future once people are able to start planning for their well-deserved summer getaways.”

More than 50% of passengers travel to and from Stansted by rail, coach and bus, making it the best-performing airport in the UK and one of the best in Europe for public transport use.



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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Malcolm Ginsberg, London

In March 1991 Stansted was upgraded as a full international gateway to London. It was effectively a new airport. That was what The Queen opened.

Mark Blackburn, United Kingdom

Maybe it would be more accurate to say the Queen re-opened Stansted airport. I remember flying out one snowy Christmas in the early 70s on a Monarch Airlines B707 to New York..

David Starkie, United Kingdom

Stansted had been handling passengers for about a quarter of a century when the new terminal building was opened by the Queen.

Paul Le Blond, Penn, Bucks

The public inquiry was 1981-83 and the decision was announced in a White Paper in 1985