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Stansted Airport marks 30 years since Queen opened new terminal




Stansted Airport is marking the 30th anniversary of the opening of its iconic terminal by the Queen on Monday (March 15).

The muted celebration comes as the Covid-19 crisis has cut passenger numbers to levels last seen in 1994.

Three decades after the first flights took off from the "new airport" after a £400m investment, Stansted, which began life as a Second World War base for the US air force, is facing one of the greatest challenges in its history.

Stansted's new terminal (45149093)
Stansted's new terminal (45149093)

The pandemic has grounded all but essential flights – before coronavirus shut down the aviation industry, Stansted was handling around 28 million passengers a year flying to almost 200 destinations.

This compares to fewer than 50 routes and just over one million passengers when the terminal opened in 1991.

Four days after the official opening, the new terminal welcomed its first passengers for the first departing flight, an Air UK service to Glasgow, and greeted its first arrivals when an Air France flight landed from Paris.

Cake cutting (45149098)
Cake cutting (45149098)

Since then, nearly 460 million passengers on 3.95 million flights have passed through the building designed by architect Norman Foster, now Baron Foster of Thames Bank.

Managing director Steve Griffiths said: "London Stansted has a long and proud history, and to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of our iconic terminal building, a building that has undoubtedly stood the test of time, is another great milestone on the airport's journey.

"While the modern Stansted has been at the forefront of the revolution in air travel over the past three decades, we currently face a crisis on a scale like never before. Passenger numbers are almost back at the same levels as when we first opened, but we know there is demand from the millions of travellers who start and end their journeys through our doors each year.

"That is why it is more important than ever that the Government's Global Travel Taskforce acts quickly to establish a framework for the restart of international travel in May.

Stansted Airport managing director Steve Griffiths. Pic: Vikki Lince
Stansted Airport managing director Steve Griffiths. Pic: Vikki Lince

"Stansted has helped create so many fantastic memories for our passengers and our highly valued colleagues over the years, 70 of whom have been with us since we welcomed the Queen all those years ago.

"We can't wait to welcome back our passengers to begin the next 30 years of Stansted's story, and we are confident the airport has a very bright and successful future once people are able to start planning for their well-deserved summer getaways."

Since its inauguration, the terminal has been extended twice, including a £50m scheme to develop the arrivals area that opened in 2008. Following the acquisition by MAG (Manchester Airports Group) of the business from BAA in 2013, the terminal has undergone an £80m transformation along with an £11m upgrade of the Satellite One departures area.

Royal seal of approval (45149102)
Royal seal of approval (45149102)

The evolution of the terminal has continued with the introduction of a new 'shoreline' check-in area in 2019, and a £60m hi-tech baggage system beneath the terminal was completed ahead of schedule after nearly four years' complex work.

Aviation development in recent years has seen Ryanair continue to expand its operation at Stansted and the airport has welcomed key new partners, including Jet2.com, which established its only base in the South East in 2018, and Emirates, which began daily flights to Dubai in 2018.



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