There’s no demand for second runway at Stansted

SADLY RSW Brown, in his letter ‘Airport anger’ (Reporter, July 1) seems not to have correctly assessed the airport situation and has ignored the real issues.

I’m not aware of any group that opposes airport expansion campaigning for its closure. It would be interesting to see RSW Browns evidence for his claim?

What Stop Stansted Expansions (SSE) objectives have been, as its name says, is to stop expansion.

When SSE started its campaign in 2002, it wanted to delay any plan for expansion on the existing runway and stop any additional runways being built. It failed on its first objective and succeeded on its main one.

If SSE had not continually campaigned against additional runways, construction of the second may have started and possibly been completed by now. RSW Brown should know that BAA’s original intention was to have the second runway operating by 2011. Also construction of the runway would have commenced before the start of the present economic situation, leaving the airport in a dire situation and BAA’s parent company in even greater financial debt.

During the past three years, passenger traffic through the airport has declined. It peaked in October 2007 at 24.016 mppa and 193,700 passenger and cargo flights.

During the 12 months to May 2010, 19.337m passengers used the airport with 151,458 flights. This is one of the reasons why jobs have been lost at the airport.

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The airport is allowed 35 mppa with 264,000 flights. The airport has much more capacity. If the business was available, the airport can almost double in passenger terms and can increase by almost 50 per cent in air transport movements. This growth could create many additional jobs.

Sadly the number of people working at the airport has declined in recent years, many skilled jobs being lost. Unfortunately, BAA seem incapable of informing local authorities through the Stansted Airport Consultative Committee (STACC) just how many people are actually employed there.

At the STACC meeting on April 2009, BAA did provide a workforce breakdown of 11,351; in January 2010 they estimated this to be less than 10,700 and hundreds of jobs have been lost since.

In the past, BAA has said that the airport would create jobs for local people. BAA’s information, given to the STACC meeting in April 2009, shows that about 50 per cent of the workforce has a CM postcode; the remainder have registered postcode addresses almost anywhere in the UK, from Newcastle to Portsmouth.

Many of the workers with CM postcodes come from outside the UK.

In 2002, the airport predicted that a second runway would be needed by 2011 – the past three years proves that it is not necessary.

Unrealistic Government spending during the past 10 years has resulted in the debt that our country now has. This has to be repaid and is likely to result in most of us having to reduce our expenditure on luxuries such as overseas holidays. The result is likely to be that greater use of the airport may be many years away.

There are already many vacant offices, warehouses and factories in and around the airport. These would be snapped up if business growth opportunities existed. They are available without the need of a second runway.

One other issue RSW Brown omits is Ryanair, the largest carrier at the airport, has publically said they do not want a second runway.

In recent years, a number of aircraft-related engineering companies have left Stansted and moved their activities outside the UK.

Bearing in mind that BAA Stansted customers are so called low-cost carriers such as Ryanair and easyJet, they account for about 85 per cent of airport use, these companies are not prepared to pay the costs of aircraft servicing required by Stansted-based operations and have taken their business elsewhere.

Bearing all of this in mind, surely RSW Brown does not want BAA to end up with two runways and associated infrastructure, which would be under utilised, resulting in BAA finding it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to repay an additional loan of between �2 to 4 billion, the cost of building the second runway and associated infrastructure. If this had happened, BAA would have found it very difficult to service the loan resulting in the airport going bust with even more job losses.

Ray Woodcock

Stansted Mountfitchet