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Stansted undaunted by the loss of Primera Air as it explores new frontiers

PUBLISHED: 16:49 12 October 2018

A Primera plane at Stansted Airport Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

A Primera plane at Stansted Airport Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Stansted Airport has denied that the recent collapse of Primera Air was because the flights it was operating from there were loss-making.

Primera Air launched from Stansted in April to Toronto, Washington, New York and Boston, offering transatlantic flights from $99. But the Danish carrier ceased trading on October 1, leaving thousands of passengers temporarily stranded.

A spokesperson for the airport denied that the airline’s issues were anything to do with Stansted. “These routes were a small part of the airline’s overall flight programme - or the strength of demand for long-haul services from within our catchment, which remains very strong,” he said.

“Primera Air was doing very well in terms of load factors – seats sold - on routes to/from Stansted, particularly from the US end. They were just unable to secure the funding it required, despite successfully operating for 14 years, and they were also impacted by the late arrival new aircraft that were critical to its operating model.”

A team from Stansted is in talks with airlines to replace Primera’s American routes, as well as exploring other destinations across the globe.

The spokesperson added: “We have available runway capacity today and are forecast to meet up to 50% of demand in the London market over the next decade so there is plenty of interest from airlines, including those who serve key destination across North America, plus across India and China where demand for services to the UK is growing rapidly.”

Stansted welcomed a record number of passengers in September as the summer getaway showed no signs of letting up beyond the peak holiday season. Nearly 2.7 million passengers passed through the terminal, up 9.2 per cent on last year.

There was a 57% rise in demand doe flights to Antalya in Turkey, and a 55% surge in demand for Nice in France. Other popular destinations include Lanzarote, Greece, Cyprus and Spain.

Emirates service to Dubai continues to prove popular, particularly with businesses across the East of England, and Saint Petersburg became the newest destination in the airport’s repertoire, as Pobeda Airlines launched its flights to Russia’s second largest city today.

Chief Executive of London Stansted, Ken O’Toole, said: “As London’s fastest growing airport - and one of the fastest growing large airports in Europe - with a choice of nearly 200 destinations on offer, this September we not only saw more people take to the skies than in the same month last year, but it also beat the total for July 2017, traditionally one of the peak months of any summer.”

A planning meeting to decide whether London Stansted Airport should be allowed to expand to increase the number of passengers it serves has been delayed, and will now be held on Wednesday November 14.

Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee was due to determine the planning application – which seeks to raise the current cap on the number of passengers the airport is permitted to serve from 35 million passengers per year to 43 million – at a meeting on October 17. The date change follows a request from campaigning group Stop Stansted Expansion to be allowed time to address committee members. As a result, officers expect they will need extra time to address any technical issues which may arise, as well as offering the airport the opportunity to address the points.

Public speaking sessions will take place on Tuesday November 6 from 10am to 1pm, Wednesday November 7 from 2pm to 5pm and later the same day from 6pm to 9pm. These sessions will commence with an introduction from the applicant about its proposals, and also accommodate time for Stop Stansted Expansion to present its views.

Mr O’Toole said Stansted’s growth is “a clear reflection of how far we have come in the last year, and why we have applied for permission to raise the number of passengers we serve to 43 million a year, backed by a firm commitment to do so without any additional flights or noise impacts beyond our current permissions.”

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