Latest Ryanair deal is turning Stansted Airport into a “mecca for cheap leisure flights,” say campaigners


Ryanair - Credit: Archant

THE owner of Stansted Airport has refuted claims its latest deal with Ryanair is turning it into a “mecca for cheap leisure flights”.

Manchester Airport Group (MAG), which owns the Uttlesford hub, defended the new 10-year agreement announced earlier this week, which no-frills airline Ryanair says will increase the number of passengers it serves at Stansted from just over 13million a year to more than 21m by 2023.

Ryanair is already Stansted’s largest airline, serving more than 140 destinations during the past 12 months.

The deal follows on from a similar contract signed with easyJet in June that will reportedly allow the low-cost airline to increase its passenger numbers out of Stansted from 2.8m to 6m over the next five years.

But campaigners at the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) pressure group say the deals contradict MAG’s pledge to broaden the number of airlines that operate from the airport, which it stated after acquiring Stansted from the former BAA group earlier this year.

SSE’s economic advisor Brian Ross said: “When MAG bought Stansted it said that it wanted to make the airport more broadly based, with more airlines and more destinations.

“Ryanair already accounts for three quarters of all Stansted’s passengers and this deal will entrench Ryanair even deeper as the dominant airline at Stansted and reinforce the airport’s reputation as nothing other than a mecca for cheap leisure flights, especially since it comes on top of a similar deal that MAG did with easyJet a few months ago.”

Most Read

However, a spokesman for MAG said the new arrangements with low-cost airlines were just one element of the company’s strategy to grow operations at Stansted.

He said: “MAG is crystal clear about its ambition and plans for Stansted. The ambition is to be the best airport in London - there’s lots to do but we’ve made a great start.

“We have already seen new deals signed with three of our main airline partners. We are now returning the airport to growth, and are in talks with lots of other airlines about beginning services from Stansted.

“In fact, the Ryanair deal commits the airline to supporting the development of long-haul routes from Stansted, a massive change in the relationship and approach.”

MAG’s strategy is based on four key steps: agreeing long-term deals with existing airlines, returning the airport to growth, building on existing MAG airline relationships and introducing new airlines and routes.