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MAG, which bought Stansted from Heathrow in February for £1.5bn, said the “long-term growth framework” agreed with the airline was a positive first step as it tries to turn around the nosedive in passenger numbers over the past few years.
Easyjet flies eight aircraft on up to 27 routes out of London Stansted, making it roughly half the size of its Luton operation and a sixth of that at Gatwick. However, the deal will be seen as significant as a potential vote of confidence in the airport, which has long been lambasted – most notably by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary – for perceived high charges.
The easyJet deal will mean progressively lower charges as passenger volume rises but is understood to be only one option for the airline as it considers where to deploy its aircraft in the coming years. The airline struck similar agreements at Edinburgh and Gatwick airports after competition authorities forced the company then known as BAA to sell most of its airports bar Heathrow.
Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said: “We are delighted that easyJet has chosen Stansted. We’re working hard with existing and prospective airlines to drive passenger growth at Stansted so the announcement by easyJet on the new framework for growth is a positive first step.
“The quality of our offer is compelling and we strongly believe that London Stansted has a key role to play in any debate on south-east capacity and today’s positive announcement by easyJet confirms that.”