London Stansted Airport
MAG London Stansted Airport logo.svg
London Stansted Airport.JPG
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorManchester Airport Holdings
ServesGreater London, Western Essex and Cambridgeshire
LocationStansted Mountfitchet, Essex, England, UK
Opened7 August 1943; 79 years ago (1943-08-07)
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL348 ft / 106 m
Coordinates51°53′06″N 000°14′06″E / 51.88500°N 0.23500°E / 51.88500; 0.23500Coordinates: 51°53′06″N 000°14′06″E / 51.88500°N 0.23500°E / 51.88500; 0.23500
EGSS is located in Essex
Location in Essex
Direction Length Surface
m ft
04/22 3,049 10,003 Grooved Asphalt
Statistics (2022)
Passenger change 21-22Increase226%
Aircraft movements159,502
Movements change 21-2Increase107%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

London Stansted Airport (IATA: STN, ICAO: EGSS) is a tertiary international airport serving London, England, United Kingdom. It is located near Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, England, 42 mi (68 km) northeast of Central London.

London Stansted serves over 160 destinations across Europe, Asia and Africa. Stansted is a base for a number of major European low-cost carriers. This includes being the largest base for low-cost airline Ryanair, with over 100 destinations served by the airline. As of 2022, it is the fourth-busiest airport in the United Kingdom after Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester.[3] Interestingly though, during the pandemic in 2021 it was the second largest in the country.[4] Stansted's runway is also used by private companies such as the Harrods Aviation, Titan Airways, and XJet terminals, which are private ground handlers that are able to handle private flights, charter flights, and state visits.

Converted to civil use from RAF Stansted Mountfitchet in the late 1940s, Stansted was used by charter airlines. It came under British Airports Authority control in 1966. The privatised BAA sold Stansted in February 2013 to Manchester Airports Group as a result of a March 2009 ruling by the Competition Commission against BAA's monopoly position.[5][6]


London Stansted Airport is located near the village of Stansted Mountfitchet. It has one main passenger terminal. Three passenger satellites have departure gates; one is connected to the main terminal by an air bridge and the other two by the Stansted Airport Transit System people mover.

The terminal building was designed by Foster and Partners with input from structural engineer Peter Rice,[7] and features a "floating" roof, supported by a space frame of inverted-pyramid roof trusses, creating the impression of a stylised swan in flight. The base of each truss structure is a "utility pillar", which provides indirect uplighting illumination and is the location for air-conditioning, water, telecommunications, and electrical outlets. The layout of the airport was originally designed to provide an unobstructed flow for passengers to arrive at the short-stay car park, move through the check-in hall, and go through security and on to the departure gates, all on the same level.

From 1997 to 2007, Stansted had rapid expansion of passenger numbers on the back of the boom in low-cost air travel, peaking at 24 million passengers in the 12 months to October 2007, but passenger numbers declined in the next five years. Passenger totals later increased, and in 2016 recorded an annual increase of 8.0% to 24.3 million, and numbers have since continued to rise.[2]


Where Stansted Airport is now, in about 1935
Where Stansted Airport is now, in about 1935
A Martin B-26 Marauder of the 344th Bomb Group at Stansted, 1944
A Martin B-26 Marauder of the 344th Bomb Group at Stansted, 1944
Avro York of the based Air Charter Ltd taking off on a trooping flight in 1955 with wartime hangars in the background
Avro York of the based Air Charter Ltd taking off on a trooping flight in 1955 with wartime hangars in the background

Second World War

Main article: RAF Stansted Mountfitchet

The airfield opened in early July 1943 a dedication ceremony for the Stansted Airfield with a parade of builders, the 825th Engineer Aviation Battalion EAB and the 850th Engineer Aviation Battalion EAB of the United States Army along with a small group of the British Royal Engineers who offered to help and wanted to learn how to operate the heavy construction equipment. [8]and was used during the Second World War as RAF Stansted Mountfitchet by the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces as a bomber airfield and as a major maintenance depot. Although the official name was Stansted Mountfitchet, the base was known as simply Stansted in both written and spoken form.

The station was first allocated to the USAAF Eighth Air Force in August 1942 as a heavy-bomber airfield. As well as an operational bomber base, Stansted was also an Air Technical Services Command maintenance and supply depot concerned with major overhauls and modification of B-26s. After D-Day, these activities were transferred to France, but the base was still used as a supply storage area for the support of aircraft on the continent.

Postwar use

After the withdrawal of the Americans on 12 August 1945, Stansted was taken over by the Air Ministry and used by No. 263 Maintenance Unit, RAF, for storage purposes. In addition, between March 1946 and August 1947, Stansted was used for housing German prisoners of war.[9]

In November 1946, the recently established British cargo airline, London Aero and Motor Services, equipped with ex-RAF Handley Page Halifaxes, moved into Stansted, using it as a base for its operations until it was wound up in July 1948.[10]

The Ministry of Civil Aviation finally took control of Stansted in 1949 and the airport was then used as a base by several UK charter airlines. The US military returned in 1954 to extend the runway for a possible transfer to NATO. The transfer to NATO was never realised, however, and the airport continued in civil use, ending up under BAA control in 1966.

During the 1960s, '70s, and early '80s, the Fire Service Training School was based on the eastern side of the airfield under the auspices of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, now the Civil Aviation Authority. The school was responsible for the training of all aviation fire crews for British airfields, as well as those of many overseas countries.

Commercial operations and redevelopment

The terminal building at night
The terminal building at night
The arrivals hall in the terminal building was extended in 2008.
The arrivals hall in the terminal building was extended in 2008.

Beginning in 1966, after Stansted was placed under BAA control, the airport was used by holiday charter operators wishing to escape the higher costs associated with operating from Heathrow and Gatwick.

View of Stansted from the air
View of Stansted from the air

Stansted had been held in reserve as a third London airport since the 1950s. However, after a public inquiry at Chelmsford in 1966–67, the government set up the Roskill Commission to review the need afresh. The Commission for the Third London Airport (the "Roskill Commission") of 1968–71 did not include Stansted as one of its four short-listed sites and recommended that Cublington in Buckinghamshire should be developed as London's third airport.[11] However, the Conservative government under Ted Heath agreed with a minority recommendation that a site at Foulness in the Thames Estuary, later renamed Maplin, should be developed, but in 1974, the incoming Labour government under Harold Wilson cancelled the Maplin project because of the economic situation.[12]

Stansted was then considered as an option for long-term development in the Advisory Committee on Airports Policy and the Study Group on South East Airports and was selected from a short list of six by the Conservative government in December 1979. The proposal, for a new terminal associated with the existing runway and the safeguarding of land for a second runway, was considered at the Airports Inquiries of 1981–83. The Inspector's Report was published in 1984 and the decision, announced in a white paper in 1985, was to approve a plan to develop Stansted in two phases, involving both airfield and terminal improvements that would increase the airport's capacity to 15 million passengers per year, but to reject the second runway.[12]

Foster + Partners terminal

The current terminal building was designed by architectural practice Foster + Partners, commissioned in 1981. As part of the development, a railway branch was built to the airport, and Stansted Airport railway station opened in 1991. Construction was undertaken by John Laing and took place between 1988 and 1991,[13] costing £100 million.[14] In 1990, it was awarded the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture / Mies van der Rohe Award. The building, recognised as a landmark work of high-tech architecture, was opened to the public in 1991.

As part of the project's development, in 1988 Norman Foster and British architectural artist Brian Clarke made several proposals for an integral artwork for the terminal building. The principal proposal would have seen the east and west elevations of the terminal clad in two sequences of traditionally mouth-blown, leaded stained glass,[15] along the full 162-metre length of the building. However, for technical and security reasons, the artwork was not executed. In 1991, the British Airports Authority commissioned a second, smaller stained glass project from Clarke for Stansted Airport in place of the 1988 proposal. The artist designed two stained glass friezes and a 6-metre high tower of stained glass[16][17] for a circulation area in the centre of the terminal which, in their composition, echoed elements of Foster's structure; by 1994 the tower had been removed to 'allow greater flow of traffic through the space',[15] and later the friezes were likewise removed.

Recent expansions

A major expansion programme to the existing terminal took place between 2007 and 2009, adding nearly 5,900 m2 (64,000 sq ft) of floorspace to give space for additional baggage carousels, a new immigration and passport control hall, and a hypostyle arrivals' hall with improved facilities.

In November 2006, Uttlesford District Council rejected a BAA planning application to increase the permitted number of aircraft movements and to remove the limit on passenger numbers. BAA immediately appealed against the decision and a public inquiry opened, lasting from May until October 2007. Planning Inspector Alan Boyland made his recommendations in January 2008.[citation needed] Those recommendations were largely followed by the Secretary of State for Transport (Geoff Hoon) and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Hazel Blears), who jointly allowed the applicant's appeal in October 2008. A legal challenge by community campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion was rejected by the High Court in March 2009.[18]

In 2008, 57 people were arrested after Plane Stupid, an environmental activist group, broke through the barriers and created a "stockade" on a taxiway, which resulted in 52 flights being cancelled.[19]

The Competition Commission ruled in March 2009 that BAA should sell Gatwick and Stansted Airports within two years.[20] The ruling was quashed within a year following an appeal, but was subsequently upheld.[21] The Competition Commission reconfirmed its ruling in July 2011 that the airport be sold,[22] and the Court of Appeal turned down an appeal by BAA on 26 July 2012.[23] In light of the result, BAA chose not to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and confirmed on 20 August 2012 that the airport would be sold.[24]

In 2017, Antonov Airlines opened a UK office at Stansted for cargo charter flights, generally of outsize loads.[25]

In March 2018, a group of activists delayed a deportation flight to Nigeria.[26] 15 of the protestors were found guilty of "intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome", under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990. This verdict on the Stansted 15 was described in New Statesman as having a chilling effect on public dissent.[27]


Terminal and satellite buildings

The terminal is separated into three areas: Check-in and main concourse along the front, Departures towards the back left, and Arrivals on the back right upon entry. No gates are in the main terminal building; instead, they are located in three separate oblong satellite buildings. The airport has 68 gates: 40 jetway gates, and 28 hardstands with 6 additional spaces for narrowbody planes to be stored; these spaces however inhibit the 2 spaces these storage spaces are flanked by.

An additional building, known as the Advanced Passenger Vehicle (APV), was brought back into use in 2016 for flights departing during the busy 06:00 to 08:00 am period.[28] The APV building is linked to the main terminal building by an accessible route and acts as a bus terminal for international flights at remote stands. Prior to the completion of Satellite 3, this terminal (then consisted of gates 90–95) was in regular passenger use.

Satellite Building Gate Numbers Passenger access Notes
Satellite 1 1–19 Transit system Used by most major airlines except Ryanair, furthest in distance but first stop on transit from the main terminal. Around four minutes train ride.
Satellite 2 20–39 Transit system Used by Ryanair, Play and occasionally Easyjet. Situated in the upper level of Satellite 2 accessed via the second stop on transit from the main terminal. Boarding Bridges must be accessed by stairs one floor down (same level as gates 81–88). Around seven minutes train ride.
81–88 Walkway from main terminal Used by Easyjet and Loganair but may be used for Ryanair international and domestic departures; provides exit route for UK and Common Travel Area arrivals. During times of reduced operations, only gates 81–88 are used for boarding. Arriving passengers from outside the Common Travel Area are transferred to the international arrivals hall by bus. Located below gates 20–39, and only takes up half of the first floor, but parallel to the bridges, which are also used by gates 20–39. Around ten minutes walk from the terminal.
Satellite 3 40–59 Walkway from main terminal Used exclusively by Ryanair; this building is not equipped with jet bridges. Around fifteen minute walk from the main terminal.
APV 90–93 Walkway from main terminal Used by Ryanair during peak times; acts as a terminal for buses to remote stands. The access to the gates is underneath the main terminal, next to the quiet zone. Around a four minute walk from the main passenger area.

Domestic arrivals (from the UK and Common Travel Area) use a separate exit route, located at the opposite end of the Terminal to the International arrivals hall. This exit is connected solely by footbridge from Satellite 2 gates 81–88. When a domestic flight arrives at a gate which is not located in Satellite 2, passengers are transported to a gate on Satellite 2 by a courtesy bus service from the aircraft.

Car parks and hotels

The Radisson Blu hotel which is just a short walk from the Terminal building.
The Radisson Blu hotel which is just a short walk from the Terminal building.

Stansted has a variety of car parking including long-, mid-, and short-stay options along with valet and meet-and-greet parking services. Two drop off areas also are available. The express area is located near the short-stay car park, while a free service is within the mid-stay area. A fee is charged for the express service.[29] Terminal Road North and its free drop-off area directly outside the terminal was closed shortly after MAG took over the airport in 2013. Since 2004, Stansted also offers a range of hotel accommodation including Holiday Inn Express, Novotel, Premier Inn, and Radisson Blu hotels and the recently opened Hampton by Hilton, the last two of which are both within two minutes of the terminal building via an undercover walkway. Regular bus service handles transfers between the terminal building and Stansted's car parks and hotels.

Control tower

The Terminal Building with the adjacent Control Tower
The Terminal Building with the adjacent Control Tower

Stansted's air traffic control tower was completed in 1996 and was the tallest in Britain at the time of its construction.[30] It is located on the southside of the airfield alongside the main terminal building. It replaced the old control tower, which offered poor views of the airfield once the current terminal building was opened in 1991.

Other infrastructure

There are several cargo buildings and hangars around the airfield. The main cargo centre is located by the control tower and handles most cargo operations, including aircraft such as the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 and the Boeing 747. There are a small number of hangars on the other side of the runway to the rest of the airport. The largest are located at the south east of the airfield, one of which is used by Ryanair.

Titan Airways has its head office in the Enterprise House on the airport property.[31] Several airlines at one time had their head offices on the airport property. AirUK (later KLM uk) had its head office in the Stansted House.[32][33] When Buzz existed, its head office was in the Endeavour House.[34] When AB Airlines existed, its head office was in the Enterprise House.[35] For a period Lloyd International Airways had its head office at the Lloyd House at Stansted.[36] When Go Fly existed its head office was at the Enterprise House.[37]

Proposed developments

Abandoned plans for a second runway

On 11 March 2008, BAA submitted a planning application (titled "G2") to expand the airport by 3 sq mi (8 km2) and for the construction of a second runway and terminal, etc., in line with a recommendation in the 2003 Air Transport White Paper (ATWP). This would have been the subject of a public inquiry, and if approved, would have allowed Stansted to handle more passengers than Heathrow did at the time of the application.[38]

In May 2010, BAA withdrew its plans to build a second runway at Stansted and withdrew the plans to build a new runway at Heathrow.[39]

The ATWP had anticipated that a second runway would be operational by 2011, but this date continued to slip. BAA's 2008 planning application envisaged operation commencing in 2015, and in 2009, BAA revised the anticipated opening date to 2017.

Prior to the United Kingdom's May 2010 general election, all three major political parties pledged not to approve a second runway. Soon after the election, the new government confirmed this, and BAA withdrew its application for planning permission, having spent nearly £200 million preparing for the public inquiry and buying up properties.

The public inquiry into BAA's second runway application had been scheduled to start on 15 April 2009, but the start was delayed by Secretary of State Hazel Blears to allow time for BAA and the government to consider the implications of the March 2009 Competition Commission's ruling that BAA must sell Stansted within two years. As 2011 drew to a close, BAA was still appealing against the Competition Commission ruling. On 20 August 2012, after losing a case at the Court of Appeal, BAA agreed to cease challenging the Competition Commission's ruling and to sell Stansted.

On 10 February 2010, Secretary of State John Denham, in an open letter, concluded that the inquiry could not reasonably start until after the general election. In addition, he commented that the planning application documents were nearly two years old and would require updating. Eventually, BAA realised the futility of pursuing its G2 application in the context of the new government policy and withdrew it on 24 May 2010.[39]

Stop Stansted Expansion

The advocacy group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) was formed in 2002, as a working group of the North West Essex and East Herts Preservation Association, in response to the Government's consultation on expanding UK airports and, particularly, expansion plans for Stansted Airport subsequently defined in the Air Transport white paper in December 2003.[40]

SSE, whose membership includes the majority of local parish councils and thousands of residents, continues to actively campaign against unsustainable expansion of the airport. SSE was a major participant in the 2007 G1 public inquiry and had committed to be a major participant in the anticipated inquiry into the G2 second runway proposal. Following the withdrawal of the G2 planning application, the group called upon BAA to sell the homes it had bought to support the planned expansion.[citation needed]

In September 2012, as a result of pressure from the aviation industry, the government set up the Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies,[41] to consider what, if anything, needed to be done to maintain the UK's status as a global aviation hub. The commission concluded that an additional runway would be required for South East England and that it should be added to either Heathrow or Gatwick. Following the 2015 election, the commission made a final recommendation to expand Heathrow subject to certain environmental constraints.

Throughout 2013, the Airports Commission published discussion papers and invited submissions from key stakeholders on the main issues it wished to consider. SSE made several thorough submissions. SSE also accepted an invitation to give oral evidence and make a presentation to the commission on aviation demand forecasting and connectivity at a public evidence session held in Manchester in July 2013.[citation needed]

Terminal redevelopment

MAG announced on 20 June 2013 as part of a visit to the airport by the Secretary of State for Transport that it would be launching an £80 million terminal redevelopment programme. MAG has invested £40 million and the remainder was invested by other commercial partners. The redevelopment included relocation of the security area, doubling the amount of seating, and improving the information displays. The new Departure Lounge offers a food court, a number of new shops, and an Escape Lounge, but the remodelling has drawn heavy criticism due to the length of time it takes to walk through the shopping areas to get to the departure gates.

Satellite One has also been redeveloped with the aim to attract more long-haul airlines to Stansted.[42]

New arrivals terminal

An arrivals terminal is planned to be built at Stansted. The site is planned to include larger immigration and baggage reclaim areas, with more shops and facilities available after arrival into the UK. The current terminal will be reconfigured to departures only, with security and check-in areas due to be expanded. The project is expected to cost £130m, and, once completed, will make London Stansted the only airport in the UK with dedicated arrivals and departures terminal buildings.[43] Initially construction was due to start in 2018, taking three years to complete. However, the arrivals terminal was put on hold at the end of 2019.[44] In 2020, an initial decision by Uttlesford District Council refused permission for a modified version of the plan.[45] However, this decision was overturned by the Planning Inspectorate following a public inquiry in 2021 and permission has now been granted for the airports expansion plan.[45]

Airlines and destinations


The following airlines operate regular scheduled flights to and from Stansted Airport:[46]

Air Albania[47] Tirana
Air Moldova Chișinău
Albawings[48] Seasonal: Tirana
AnadoluJet Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen
Seasonal: Antalya
British Airways Seasonal charter: Calvi (begins 14 May 2023)[49]
easyJet Amsterdam, Belfast–International, Edinburgh, Glasgow
Emirates Dubai–International[50][51] Alicante, Antalya, Athens,[52] Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Málaga, Paphos, Rome–Fiumicino,[52] Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Bodrum, Burgas (resumes 21 July 2023),[53] Catania,[54] Chambéry, Chania, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Geneva, Girona, Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Izmir, Jersey,[55] Kalamata,[56] Kefalonia, Kos, Malta, Menorca, Mytilene,[56] Naples, Nice (begins 3 May 2024),[57] Olbia,[58] Palma de Mallorca, Preveza/Lefkada,[56] Reus, Reykjavík–Keflavík,[59] Rhodes, Salzburg, Santorini,[60] Skiathos, Split, Thessaloniki, Tivat (begins 6 May 2024),[53] Verona, Zakynthos
Loganair Derry
Pegasus Airlines Ankara, Antalya, Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen, İzmir
Seasonal: Dalaman
Play[61] Reykjavík–Keflavík
Ryanair Aalborg, Aarhus, Agadir, Alicante, Ancona, Asturias,[62] Athens, Barcelona, Bari, Belfast–International,[63] Bergamo, Bergerac, Berlin, Biarritz, Billund, Bologna, Bordeaux, Bratislava, Bremen, Brindisi, Brno, Bucharest, Budapest, Bydgoszcz, Cagliari, Carcassonne, Castellón, Catania,[64] Cluj-Napoca, Cologne/Bonn, Copenhagen, Cork, Dortmund, Dresden, Dublin, Edinburgh,[65] Eindhoven, Essaouira,[66] Faro, Fez,[67] Fuerteventura, Funchal,[68] Gdańsk, Genoa, Girona, Gothenburg, Gran Canaria, Hahn,[69] Hamburg, Helsinki, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden, Katowice, Kaunas, Kerry, Klagenfurt, Knock, Košice, Kraków, Lamezia Terme, Lanzarote, La Rochelle, Leipzig/Halle,[70] Limoges, Lisbon, Łódź, Lourdes, Luxembourg, Maastricht/Aachen, Madrid, Málaga, Malta, Marrakesh, Marseille, Memmingen, Milan–Malpensa, Murcia, Nantes, Naples, Nice,[71] Nuremberg,[71] Olsztyn-Mazury, Örebro, Oslo, Ostrava, Ouarzazate,[72] Palanga, Palermo, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Perugia, Pescara, Pisa, Plovdiv, Podgorica, Poitiers, Porto, Poznań, Prague, Rabat, Riga, Rome–Ciampino, Rzeszów, Salzburg, Sandefjord, Santander, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Shannon, Sofia, Stockholm–Arlanda, Stockholm–Västerås, Szczecin, Tallinn, Tampere, Tangier,[64] Tenerife–South, Thessaloniki, Toulouse, Tours, Trapani, Trieste, Turin, Valencia, Växjö, Venice, Verona, Vienna, Vigo,[73] Vilnius, Warsaw–Modlin, Wrocław, Zagreb,[74] Zaragoza
Seasonal: Alghero, Almería, Béziers, Brive, Chania, Corfu, Grenoble, Ibiza, Jerez de la Frontera, Kalamata, Kefalonia, Kos,[75] Menorca, Newquay,[76] Nimes, Osijek (resumes 2 June 2023),[77] Perpignan, Ponta Delgada, Preveza/Lefkada, Pula, Reus, Rijeka, Rimini,[71] Rhodes, Rodez, Rovaniemi,[78] Santorini,[79] Zadar, Zakynthos
SunExpress Izmir (begins 29 October 2023)[80]
TUI Airways[81] Gran Canaria, Sharm El Sheikh,[82] Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Antalya, Chambéry, Corfu, Dalaman, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Kefalonia, Kittilä, Menorca, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Rhodes, Salzburg, Turin, Zakynthos
Turkmenistan Airlines Ashgabat[83]
Widerøe Bergen[84]


Asiana Cargo[85] Almaty, Frankfurt, Seoul–Incheon
Cargolux[86] Luxembourg
China Southern Cargo[87] Guangzhou
DHL Aviation Milan–Malpensa
FedEx Express[88] Dublin, Frankfurt, Indianapolis, Memphis, Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Qatar Airways Cargo[89] Doha
Turkish Cargo[90] Istanbul
UPS Airlines[91][88] Cologne/Bonn, Hong Kong, Louisville

Route Development

Long-haul scheduled services commenced in the early 1990s when American Airlines operated a transatlantic service between Stansted and Chicago–O'Hare, but the route was unprofitable and was withdrawn in 1993.[92] Continental Airlines also operated services in the late 1990s from Newark Liberty International Airport, but this service was stopped shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Long-haul services to the United States returned in late 2005, when Eos Airlines and MAXjet Airways commenced all-business class services from Stansted to New York–JFK. In 2006, MAXjet expanded their service with flights to Washington–Dulles, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. American Airlines began daily flights to Stansted in October 2007 from New York–JFK and was originally expected to operate a second daily flight from April 2008. However, because of the jump in fuel price, weakening economic performance, and worsening credit environment at the time,[93][94][95] all three services to the United States have since been discontinued following the demise of MAXjet Airways in December 2007 and Eos Airlines in April 2008. Finally, in July 2008, American Airlines withdrew from Stansted, alongside its services to Gatwick, and consolidated all operations at Heathrow Airport.

Long-haul transatlantic operations made a brief return to Stansted in June 2010, when Sun Country Airlines announced a seasonal weekly service from Stansted to Minneapolis/St. Paul. The flights made a refuelling stopover in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador as the aircraft used for the flight, a Boeing 737-800, would not be able to complete a nonstop westbound flight from Stansted to Minneapolis. The flights operated from 11 June to 15 August 2010. In 2011, Sun Country operated to Gatwick rather than Stansted and then discontinued flights due to the price involved in carrying fuel on long-haul flights.[citation needed]. Long-haul services to Asia commenced in March 2009[96] with Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia X providing direct flights to Kuala Lumpur International Airport; however, on 24 October 2011, this service moved to Gatwick Airport before being later withdrawn completely. Low-cost airline Primera Air launched non-stop flights from Stansted to Boston, Newark and Washington, D.C., until the collapse of the airline meant the discontinuation of the routes by 2018, leaving the airport without transatlantic routes once more. In 2019, Emirates began operating daily flights to its hub at Dubai-International using its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.[97] The route is expected to expand to twice daily in mid-2023.[98] Wow Air previously operated services to the airport in the final few months of operation,[99] though Play operates the route to Keflavík presently instead.[100]

The COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted the aviation industry, with Stansted Airport not being immune from the fallout. Services to Moscow-Domodedovo with Ural Airlines,[101] Copenhagen (Scandinavian Airlines),[102] Guernsey (Aurigny) and Mumbai[103] and Amritsar[104](both Air India) Additionally, routes to Dakar with Air Senegal[105] and Tel Aviv with El Al,[106] which were scheduled to begin in 2020, never began operation. Additionally, easyJet, one of the largest operators at the airport at the time, announced the closure of their base at Stansted, which had more than two dozen routes and existed for more than a decade, in August 2020. [107]



In 1988, over 1.1 million passengers passed through Stansted, the first time annual passenger numbers had exceeded 1 million at the airport.[108] Consistent year-on-year growth followed, and by 1997, the total had reached over 5 million, rapidly rising to almost 12 million in 2000.[2]

In 2007, passenger numbers peaked at nearly 24 million, but then declined for five years, and in 2012, the total was around 17.5 million. An increase of 2.2% was recorded in 2013 to 17.8 million passengers, then 11.7% in 2014 to 19.9 million, followed by 12.8% in 2015 to 22.5 million, and 8.0% in 2016 to a record total of 24.3 million, making Stansted the fourth-busiest airport in the United Kingdom.[2] Stansted also is a major freight airport, the third-busiest in the UK during 2016, behind London Heathrow and East Midlands Airport, handling in excess of 223,203 tonnes per annum, although freight throughput has declined slightly from its 2005 peak level.[2]

Passenger numbers for the year ending September 2016 increased by 8.4% to over 24 million for the first time since 2007.[109]

Traffic figures

Annual passenger traffic at STN airport. See Wikidata query.
Number of Passengers[nb 1] Percentage Change Number of Movements[nb 2] Freight (tonnes)
2000 11,878,190 165,779 167,823
2001 13,665,333 Increase15.0% 169,583 165,660
2002 16,054,522 Increase17.5% 170,544 184,449
2003 18,722,112 Increase16.6% 186,475 198,565
2004 20,910,842 Increase11.7% 192,245 225,772
2005 21,998,673 Increase05.2% 193,511 237,045
2006 23,687,013 Increase07.7% 206,693 224,312
2007 23,779,697 Increase00.4% 208,462 203,747
2008 22,360,364 Decrease06.0% 193,282 197,738
2009 19,957,077 Decrease10.7% 167,817 182,810
2010 18,573,592 Decrease06.9% 155,140 202,238
2011 18,052,843 Decrease02.8% 148,317 202,593
2012 17,472,699 Decrease03.2% 143,511 214,160
2013 17,852,393 Increase02.2% 146,324 211,952
2014 19,941,593 Increase11.7% 157,117 204,725
2015 22,519,178 Increase12.9% 168,629 207,996
2016 24,320,071 Increase08.0% 180,430 223,203
2017 25,902,618 Increase06.5% 189,919 236,892
2018 27,996,116 Increase08.1% 201,614 226,128
2019 28,139,051 Increase00.5% 199,925 224,139
2020 7,536,869 Decrease072.2% 86,107 254,573
2021 7,145,802 Decrease05.2% 93,316 263,631
2022 23,289,652 Increase0225.9% 159,502
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
  1. ^ number of passengers including both domestic and international
  2. ^ number of movements represents total aircraft takeoffs and landings during that year

Busiest routes

Busiest routes to and from Stansted (2022)[110]
Rank Airport Total
2017 / 18
1 Republic of Ireland Dublin 815,761 Increase 164.4%
2 Turkey Istanbul–Sabiha Gökçen 726,387 Increase 255.4%
3 Hungary Budapest 479,766 Increase 258.0%
4 Italy Rome–Ciampino 470,293 Increase 290.6%
5 Spain Tenerife–South 451,476 Increase 270.8%
6 Italy Bergamo 441,375 Increase 252.1%
7 Portugal Lisbon 436,069 Increase 131.6%
8 Spain Barcelona 435,732 Increase 195.5%
9 Spain Palma de Mallorca 387,592 Increase 195.5%
10 Portugal Faro 380,778 Increase 195.5%
11 Spain Alicante 372,451 Increase 166.3%
12 Spain Madrid 370,521 Increase 157.4%
13 Romania Bucharest 364,025 Increase 149.7%
14 Spain Málaga 341,438 Increase 186.6%
15 Portugal Porto 337,183 Increase 158.9%
16 Poland Warsaw–Modlin 322,116 Increase 187.0%
17 Turkey Antalya 320,545 Increase 967.5%
18 Germany Berlin 319,487 Increase 217.1%
19 Netherlands Eindhoven 308,211 Increase 639.7%
20 Italy Milan–Malpensa 300,009 Increase 300.8%

Ground transport

Transit system

The transit system which links the main terminal building to satellite buildings 1 (gates 1 – 19) and 2 (gates 20 – 39).
The transit system which links the main terminal building to satellite buildings 1 (gates 1 – 19) and 2 (gates 20 – 39).

Main article: Stansted Airport Transit System

The Stansted Airport Transit System connects the terminal to the satellite buildings via a 2 mi (3 km) free automated people mover service, which runs on dual concrete tracks. The system uses a mix of Adtranz C-100 and CX-100 vehicles to carry passengers to departure gates. Unlike the similar Gatwick Airport Shuttle Transit, the Stansted transit is only accessible "airside" (i.e. only after passengers pass through security).


The Stansted Express at London Liverpool Street

Stansted Airport railway station is situated in the terminal building directly below the main concourse.[111]

Services to London are on the Stansted Express train to and from London Liverpool Street in Central London. This service operates every 15 minutes and the usual journey time is between 45 and 53 minutes. Liverpool Street is served by the Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines of the London Underground network, alongside the Elizabeth line, offering access throughout London. The Stansted Express also calls at Tottenham Hale, for the Underground's Victoria line and connections to various destinations in North London and the West End. Some Stansted Express services also call at Stansted Mountfitchet, Bishop's Stortford and/or Harlow Town en route to London Liverpool Street.[111]

CrossCountry operates an hourly service from the airport to Birmingham New Street, via Cambridge, Peterborough and Leicester. Greater Anglia operates services to Norwich via Cambridge.[111]

Buses and coaches

Scheduled express bus or coach services run to and from Stratford (45 minutes), Victoria Coach Station (75 minutes), Liverpool Street Station (55 minutes), and Portman Square via Golders Green (70 minutes) and Paddington Station (105 minutes) (all in London), costing about half the train fare, but taking longer. The bus station is next to the terminal building. National Express runs direct coach services to the airport from Luton Airport and Heathrow, and also from Birmingham (11 a day), Oxford (8 a day), Norwich (10 a day), and Cambridge (11 a day).[112]

Stansted is also the start of the hourly X30 coach service to Southend-on-Sea via Chelmsford and London Southend Airport and the hourly X10 coach service to Basildon via Chelmsford, both operated by First Essex.[113]

Local bus services operate to nearby communities, including the 510/509/508 (Harlow to Stansted via Stansted Mountfitchet, Parsonage Lane and Takeley, respectively), 7/7a (Bishops Stortford to Stansted), 133 (Braintree), and 6 (Saffron Walden), operated by Arriva.[114][115]


Stansted is connected to northeast London and Cambridge by the M11 motorway and to Braintree, Colchester, and Harwich by the A120, which is dual-carriageway until Braintree. The road distance to London is 37 miles (60 km).[111]

As of October 1996, the airport has 2,500 short-stay parking spaces within walking distance to the terminal. In addition, as of the same month, the airport has over 8,000 long-stay spaces located near the M11 motorway and A120 junction. A courtesy bus service links the long-stay spaces to the terminal.[116] The airport also offers mid-stay parking, closer to the terminal than its long-stay spaces.[116] Stansted Airport also offers valet parking and a meet-and-greet service, which is similar to valet, but marketed more at the leisure-traveller market, both are run from the short-stay car park.[117]

Incidents and accidents

Stansted has been designated by the UK government as its preferred airport for any hijacked planes requesting to land in the UK.[118] This is because its design allows a hijacked airliner to be isolated well away from any terminal buildings or runways, allowing the airport to continue to operate while negotiations are carried out, or even while an assault or rescue mission is undertaken. For this reason, Stansted has been involved in more hijack incidents than might be expected for an airport of its size.[119]

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