London Stansted becomes UK’s number one gateway to Europe

Aerial view of London Stansted Airport
Photo Credit: London Stansted Airport

This week, London Stansted Airport marked the 10th anniversary of Manchester Airports Group’s (MAG) acquisition of the facility; opening up a new era in its history.

Over the decade since its takeover, the airport has emerged as the United Kingdom’s principal gateway to Europe.

MAG acquisition February 28, 2013


Stansted was added to MAG’s portfolio of Manchester and East Midlands airports on February 28, 2013, from Heathrow Airport Holdings for £1.5billion.

Under MAG ownership, millions of pounds have been invested in revamping facilities, Jet2 and Emirates have been added to its list of carriers, and it has grown to become the UK’s number one gateway to Europe.

Planning permission has been secured to handle 43 million passengers and long-term growth deals have been signed with airlines including its biggest carrier, Ryanair.

It has also welcomed Air Force One and the President of the United States numerous times, as well as being the airport of choice for the returning cast and crew members from the hit television series, Love Island.

Stansted Airport statement


Speaking on the occasion, Gareth Powell, Stansted Airport Managing Director, said:

“It has been a fantastically exciting and successful 10 years at Stansted and although it has been challenging at times, especially during the COVID pandemic, we should be proud of what we have accomplished over the decade.

“With MAG’s ownership, the terminal has been completely revamped for an enhanced passenger experience, new airlines have been added including Jet2 and Emirates.”

“We have secured planning permission to handle 43 million passengers a year, and we have become the UK’s number one gateway to Europe.

“It’s great looking back and acknowledging the achievements over the last 10 years, but as passenger numbers are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year.

“Our focus now is on increasing terminal capacity in order to meet the demands of the future, one that promises to be just as exciting as the last decade.”

10 years & 200 million passengers later…


In the past ten years more than 200 million passengers have travelled through Stansted on 1.3 million flights served by 85 airlines to 299 destinations in 52 countries.

Spain was the most popular country to fly to during that time, while Dublin, Edinburgh, and Rome were the three most popular destinations.

A record 28 million passengers passed through in 2018, the same year it experienced its busiest day on August 27 with 103,000 passengers on 600 flights.

The COVID pandemic led to a drop in passenger numbers for two years, but the airport recovered to 23 million passengers in 2022, making it one of the UK’s fastest-recovering airports.

This year, passenger numbers are expected to be close to pre-pandemic levels.

Notable achievements


Among the other notable achievements over the decade have been pioneering community education initiatives such as Stansted Airport College and Aerozone Education Centre.

Aerozone, a purpose-built facility designed to educate school groups about aviation and airports, has welcomed over 20,000 visitors since opening in 2015.

Children in front of Aerozone Stansted education centre at Stansted Airport.

At the same time, the UK’s first aviation college located at a major UK airport, Stansted Airport College has thrived since its first students entered in 2019.

Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, visited the college in 2022 as Patron of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK – CILT (UK).

The occasion celebrated nearly four years of innovative learning at the college and the contribution its graduates are making to the industry.

Officials pose in front of Stansted Airport College.
Photo Credits: London Stansted Airport

With a target of being Net Zero carbon by 2038 – 12 years ahead of the national target for the aviation sector and two years ahead of the target set for UK airports in the Government’s Jet Zero Strategy – the airport has also developed a comprehensive sustainability strategy.

As part of that work, carbon neutrality was achieved in 2016 and a solar farm, which will help meet the airport’s existing and anticipated electricity needs, was recently approved.

Later this year the airport’s runway will celebrate its 80th birthday having started life as a World War Two base in 1943.

The 3km long strip is currently being resurfaced at night, a major five-month project involving the application of 50,000 tonnes of asphalt over an area the size of 25 football pitches.

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