Pressure group against airport’s expansion welcomes Stansted’s new owners

STANSTED Airport is being sold to the owner of Manchester Airport for £1.5bn - a move that has the approval of a pressure group to stop the Uttlesford hub’s expansion.

Stop Stansted Expansion today (Monday January 21) announced it hopes to build a partnership with the Manchester Airport Group after it purchased the Essex airport for £1.5bn.

SSE Chairman Peter Sanders said: “Our hope is that we can build a constructive relationship with Stansted’s new owners based on maximising the benefits of the airport and minimising its adverse impacts.”

The airport is being sold by Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly called BAA, after three years of legal wrangling with the Competition Commission to hold on to its Uttlesford base.

Colin Matthews, chief executive of Heathrow, said: “Stansted Airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time.

“It has been named by passengers as the world’s best airport for low-cost airlines for two consecutive years at the Skytrax World Airport Awards and we are proud of its achievements.

“We wish the new owners [Manchester Airports Group] every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish.”

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Manchester Airport is owned by Manchester Airports Group, which is a holding company in turn owned by the 10 borough councils of Greater Manchester.

Heathrow Airport Holdings is owned by an international consortium led by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial.

The Competition Commission ruled in 2009 that the then BAA had to sell both Stansted and Gatwick due to concerns over a lack of competition between London’s three main airports, which, led by Heathrow, were all owned by the same company.

BAA had already started proceedings to sell Gatwick, but launched a legal challenge against the order to sell Stansted. It ended this fight in August of last year, when it announced that Stansted was up for sale.

Stansted is the UK’s fourth busiest airport after losing its third place to Manchester. It is London’s base for low-cost airlines. Approximately 17.5m passengers and 131,400 flights pass through every year.

In all, 14 airlines operate from the Essex budget hub, serving more than 150 destinations in 32 countries, and it gives jobs to around 10,200 people in 200 businesses, including 1,316 directly employed by the airport.