London Stansted Airport

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Terminal building, designed by Sir
Terminal building, designed by Sir Norman Foster
Missing image
The lawn in front of Stansted Airport attracts large numbers of people waiting for their flight during the summer

Stansted Airport is a medium-sized passenger airport with a single runway, located in the English county of Essex about thirty miles north of London. The airport is owned and operated by BAA plc, its IATA airport code is STN and its ICAO airport code is EGSS. It is the third-busiest airport in the London area after Heathrow Airport and Gatwick Airport. Several budget airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet maintain bases at Stansted, and Volga-Dnepr often station a large Antonov An-124 freighter to the northwest of the main runway ready to carry outsize cargoes. FedEx is a dominant operator of trans-Atlantic freighter services.

The airport is named after the village Stansted Mountfitchet.



Stansted was constructed by the United States Army in 1942 as a bomber base. By 1944, over 600 aircraft were stationed there. The base played a major role in the Battle of Normandy.

After the war, the base was not needed; it was transferred to the Air Ministry in 1947. The US military returned in 1954 to extend the runway for a possible transfer to NATO but this was never realised and the airport ended up under BAA control in 1966.

Initially, the airport was used by holiday charter operators wishing to escape the higher costs associated with operating from Heathrow and Gatwick. From the outset, however, BAA and the British government planned to develop Stansted into London's third airport, to relieve Heathrow and Gatwick of excess congestion in the future. The airport's first terminal building opened in 1969 and was expanded the next year to handle the growing number of passengers.

In 1984, the government approved 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. Construction of the current terminal building began in 1986 and was completed in 1991.

Continental Airlines used to operate a transatlantic market between Stansted and Newark, New Jersey. Continental's flight was operated daily with a Boeing 757-200, until withdrawn for commercial reasons after September 11, 2001.

Tentative plans have been published for the addition of up to three more runways. If the Uttlesford district council approves the current plan, Stansted is to get a second parallel runway which should allow the airport to increase its capacity from 12 million in 2000 to 74 million air passengers in 2030.

In 2004, the number of passengers using Stansted rose 11.7% to 20.9 million. As a comparison, traffic at Heathrow rose 6.2% to 67.1 million passengers, and Gatwick was up 5% to 31.4 million.

Ground transportation

Stansted has a railway station below the terminal building, with frequent rail services to London and less frequent services to Cambridge and the Midlands. The Stansted Express train runs to and from Liverpool Street station in London every 15 minutes and the journey time is 45 minutes. At the time of writing (January 2004) the fare is 24 GBP or 36 EUR return.

Scheduled express bus or coach services run to and from Stratford, Victoria Coach Station or Golders Green (all in London), costing half as much as the train but taking rather longer. The bus/coach station is adjacent to the terminal building.

Stansted is connected to northeast London and Cambridge by the M11 motorway and to Colchester and Harwich by the A120 dual-carriageway. The access from the motorway has recently been improved with a new grade-separated junction. The long term car park is situated about a mile from the terminal and passengers need to allow at least twenty minutes to park and use a courtesy bus shuttle service prior to check-in. There are short term car parks next to the terminal building.


Stansted International Airport has one terminal. The terminal facilities include a bureau de change, left luggage service, several shops and restaurants as well as internet access. Car hire and taxis can also be arranged from within the terminal building. The terminal building was designed by Foster Associates and features a "floating" roof, supported by a space frame of inverted-pyramid roof trusses. The base of each truss structure is a "utility pillar", which provides indirect uplighting illumination and is the location for air-conditioning and water, telecommunications, and electrical outlets. The layout of the airport is designed to provide an unobstructed flow for passengers to arrive at the short-stay car park, move through the check-in hall and on to the departure gates all on the same level. However, the airport has never catered for spectators or those wishing to watch friends depart.


The size of Stansted means that an aircraft can be isolated from the terminal and the usual parking stands. Stansted also has purpose-built facilities for dealing with hijacked planes. As such the airport is the designated destination for at-risk flights approaching London. On several occasions hijacked planes and planes carrying bomb threats have been diverted to land at Stansted, sometimes from other European countries. These incidents have all ended with no loss of life. Nevertheless the airport frequently practices handling major security alerts in conjunction with Essex police.

Airlines and destinations

Scheduled service

Charter operators

External links

de:Flughafen London-Stansted nl:Stansted Airport


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