Home   News   Article

Picture gallery shows Stansted Airport through the decades


Click to view

Stansted began life as a United States Army Air Forces Second World War base in 1943 A passenger entering the open-air departures lounge A view from the terminal showing passengers boarding flights Two American Douglas DC-8s preparing to fly back to the USA in the early 1970s A busy baggage reclaim hall in the 1970s Airport security in 1981 A Flying Tigers 747 freighter at Stansted in 1983. Today, more than 250,000 tonnes of cargo a year is shipped through the airport The departure lounge in 1980 The terminal in 1978 Passengers board a flight with Norwegian airline Braathens SAFE (South American and Far East) in the early '80s Airfield map in 1943 RAF Stansted Mountfitchet in 1947 Aerial view of the airfield in 1950 Duty free shop in 1969 It was home to the USAAF Eighth Air Force Passengers check in for an American Trans Air (ATA) flight in 1985 Stansted today On 5 June 1983, the Space Shuttle touched down at the airport as part of a European tour. Crowds of 200,000 turned out to watch A busy terminal forecourt in 1984 Stansted's new terminal building taking shape in 1989 In 1991, the Queen opened the £400m new terminal, aprons and taxiways at Stansted, which increased the airport's capacity from 2m passengers a year to 8m Dustin Hoffman filming Last Chance Harvey in 2008 The airport has been used as a location in films and TV programmes... Nicholas Lyndhurst as Rodney during filming for BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses in the 80s David Hasselhoff filming Hoff the Record in 2014 From 1997 to 2007, Stansted saw a rapid growth in passenger numbers on the back of the boom in low-cost air travel... Ryanair chairman Michael O'Leary inside the engine of an aircraft at Santiago de Compostela airport in north-western Spain in January 2005. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images In 2007 construction work began on a £40m project to extend the main terminal building Many football clubs have used Stansted... David Beckham and his Real Madrid team-mates passing through in 2006 Wartime Stansted – B-26 Marauders preparing to take off Former US President Barack Obama... Stansted has been used for American presidential trips to the UK since 2008 President Donald Trump's visit in 2018 In 2012, Olympics fever hit when a London 2012 shop opened in the terminal – many athletes and spectators used the airport to get to the Games. Photo: David Poultney for LOCOG In 2016, an £80m transformation delivered a new departure lounge, award-winning bars, restaurants and new executive lounge The Emirates airline started direct flights to Dubai from Stansted in June 2018 – the airport's first daily service to the United Arab Emirates. Photo: Stephen Bates Developing future talent... the airport has teamed up with Harlow College to open the UK’s first aviation skills college Today, businesses at the airport employ 12,000 people and Stansted is one of the fastest-growing airports in Europe A vision of the future... £600m is being invested in facilities over the next five years to transform the airport The flagship project is a new £130m arrivals terminal which is due to open in 2020 At the end of the war, the base was handed back to the Civil Aviation Authority and became home to many of Britain’s charter airlines A converted wartime Nissen hut served as the terminal building in the 1950s and '60s Baggage handlers waiting for the arrival of a DC-8 in 1961 In 1966 the Government chose Stansted as its preferred site for London’s third airport – an artist's impression of the new terminal A new terminal was built in 1969... ...and extended a year later due to growing demand The departures lounge extended outside so passengers could watch planes land and take off

As Stansted Airport looks to the future, its management team has been raiding the archives and tracing its growth with a series of pictures which tell its story from a Second World War base for the United States air force in 1942 to the country’s leading airport for flights to Europe today.

The fourth largest airport in the UK now serves almost 28 million passengers a year, flying to more than 190 destinations across 38 countries.

Its owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), is about to embark on a crucial phase of its £600m transformation programme – a new arrivals terminal.

It is being built as part of a five-year plan which includes the reconfiguration of the existing Lord Foster-designed terminal into a departures-only facility to unlock the airport’s spare runway capacity. It has planning permission for up to 43m passengers a year.

The successful bidder for the work was expected to be announced in December, with construction on the three-storey, 34,000 sq m (365,973 sq ft) arrivals terminal beginning early this year.

Designed by Pascall+Watson, it is due to open in 2020, with improvements to the existing terminal being completed in 2021.


1942 – The runway was built by the United States Air Force as part of Stansted Mountfitchet Airfield.

1944 – On D-Day, bombers from Stansted led more than 600 aircraft over the beaches of occupied France.

1966 – The newly created British Airports Authority took control.

1970 – The new terminal was extended to handle increasing numbers of passengers.

1978 – The Government White Paper 'Airport Policy' proposed major expansion of Stansted.

1980 – The British Airports Authority submitted planning application to Uttlesford District Council to develop Stansted Airport.

1985 – Following a public enquiry lasting 258 days, the Government gives permission for development to about 15m passengers a year. An early motion by 75 MPs led to a compromise of phased development to eight and then 15m passengers with a cap on the number of take-offs and landings by passenger aircraft.

1986 – Work starts on the new airport.

1991 – The Queen opened the £400m new terminal, aprons and taxiways at Stansted, which increased the airport's capacity from two to eight million passengers a year.

1999 – Parliament raises the Passenger Air Transport Movement cap to 185,000 a year and permission was given for phase 2 of Stansted to go ahead.

2000 – Work on Phase 2 commences and public consultation begins on expansion to about 25m passengers a year.

2002 – Planning permission granted by Uttlesford District Council to expand to 25m passengers a year. The Government's South East and East of England Regional Air Services study includes Stansted in the future of aviation in the south-east over the next 30 years.

2007 – Stansted's busiest ever summer sees 2.5m passengers travel through the airport in August. Construction work begins on £40m project to extend main terminal building.

2008 – In June the airport marks 25th anniversary of space shuttle landing. In December, the new arrivals extension is complete and fully open to passengers.

2010 – London Stansted receives permission to handle Code F aircraft, including Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8.

2011 – 20th anniversary of the terminal opening.

2013 – Manchester Airports Group (MAG) purchases London Stansted Airport for £1.5 billion.

2018 – Direct Emirates flights to Dubai begin and MAG wins planning permission to raise its passenger limit from 35m to 43m as traffic tops 27.8m in a year.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More