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Two of London’s three biggest airports said they could add almost 30 million more passengers between them yearly without requiring extra runways.
Stansted, the biggest hub for Ryanair Holdings Plc, plans to apply to raise a cap on annual passenger numbers by almost one-quarter to 43 million, owner Manchester Airports Group said in a statement Thursday. That would be 17 million more travelers than it attracted last year. Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, said that operating bigger planes and optimizing flights could eventually raise its customer tally as high as 90 million, based on the heaviest day last year. That’s 12 million more than it handled in 2017.
Heathrow is in the middle of a consultation period to add a third runway as it’s been effectively full for a decade, with aircraft movements increasing just 0.2 percent in 2017, equivalent to two extra flights a day. Its passenger count increased 3.1 percent last year to 78 million, the fastest growth in five years, as airlines used larger plane models.
While Stansted, which has one runway, is still operating well below the existing cap of 35 million travelers, it’s likely to approach that level in the early 2020s, MAG said, making the application to the Uttlesford local council necessary. London Gatwick, Britain’s second-busiest airport, also has a single landing strip and was able to handle 45.6 passengers in 2017.
Construction of Heathrow’s 16 billion-pound ($22 billion) third strip is urgently needed to take capacity to 135 million customers, CEO John Holland-Kaye said in an interview. The hub will otherwise be overtaken by Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol at a time when business and trade links will be vital to the post-Brexit economy.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.