Stansted Airport is home to 41 airlines, and is the UK’s 4th largest airport, servicing 22.8 million passengers a year.
The history of includes gaps in services, since its origins as a crucial USAAF base, which dates back to 1943 and World War II.
Stansted Airport as a USAAF base
- The airfield was originally used as a bomber airfield and maintenance depot for B-26 aircraft until D-Day.
- While the B-26 operations were moved to France after the withdrawal of the Americans, the location was used for housing German prisoners of war from March 1946 to August of 1947.
- It wasn’t until 1949 that the history of Stansted Airport changed the identity of the past and started its destined path as a base for UK charter airlines, finally coming under control of BAA in 1966.
Stansted Airport through the years
The next phase involved plans to develop the airfield’s commercial operations. This was so that there could be relief for the increased air traffic coming into London’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, making Stansted Airport a third option. While the first terminal building construction started in 1969, the current terminal building was not built until 1986 and upon completion in March of 1991 at a cost of £100 million, it was considered the most modern airport complex in the world.
Through the 90’s, there were long haul, Transatlantic flights scheduled to the United States airports in Chicago and Newark with American Airlines and Continental Airlines, but after the attacks on 9/11, services to the United States were suspended until 2005, when services resumed. This period was short-lived because by 2008, all transatlantic passenger operations had withdrawn from Stansted Airport, but this was more the result of astronomical fuel prices and airline bankruptcies around the world.
Stansted Airport’s modern history
In the most recent chapter in it’s history, expansion took place at the current terminal from 2007 to 2009, with facilities equipped to handle more baggage, immigration and passport processing, so some say it is the preferred airport for any hijacked planes to land because of its design, which features a runway that is isolated from the terminal and passenger areas. It has been designated by the UK government for this function.
While there might seem to have many gaps in service since the construction of the newest terminal, in reality, the airport is thriving and the BAA has been granted permission to increase the passenger traffic to 35 million passengers per year. With the expansions, it is the third busiest airport in the UK and the 46th busiest airport in the world. There are more than 182,000 aircraft that depart and land at the Stansted Airport each year, flying to more than 160 destinations and 34 countries.
The Airport is continuing to fight for further expansion to increase its capacity, which it says will help the UK economy but there are many that don’t want the Airport to expand any further, watch this space to see what happens!