Saturday 24 February 2018

Council rubbishes Boris's super-hub plan for Ryanair base

A Ryanair jet taking off from Stansted Airport
A Ryanair jet taking off from Stansted Airport
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Ryanair's biggest base – Stansted – shouldn't become a 'super-hub airport', according to the local council after it published a report calling for measured growth at the facility where Ryanair wants a second runway to be built.

In a report titled 'Flights of Fancy', Essex County Council rubbished proposals by London mayor Boris Johnson to construct a new, five-runway airport to service London.

Ryanair is Stansted's biggest customer, accounting for about 75pc of its annual 17.5 million passengers.

The council said the cost of building a new London airport "would be immense", at up to £84bn (€100bn) for the Outer Thames Estuary proposal – twice the UK's annual defence budget.

The council said that Stansted, where Ryanair has just signed a 10-year agreement with its owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to significantly grow traffic there, has the capacity to double its annual passenger traffic to about 35 million.

It claimed the airport could also eventually cope with 45 million passengers a year through the use of larger aircraft and more efficient use of capacity.

The Essex council's report is a response to the UK government's Airport Commission, headed by economist Howard Davies, that is examining whether or not the UK needs additional airport capacity.

Ryanair's new 10-year deal has seen it pledge to increase the number of passengers it carries at Stansted to 21 million by 2023 from about 13.2 million at present.

The council maintains that having five runways at Stansted would see the airport's annual passenger capacity soar to 210 million a year by 2050.

The council said that the government's urgent and short-term priority for Stansted should be an improvement in its rail link with London.

"The current 50 minute journey from central London is unacceptably slow and unreliable," it said, adding that with investment, the journey time could be reduced to 30 minutes.

Ryanair has previously called for Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow to be allowed to build one extra runway each as soon as possible.

Irish Independent

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