London Stansted Airport has tended to be a major hub for low-cost airlines from across Europe. It is Ryanair’s largest base with over 100 routes served by the airline from London Stansted Airport.
The airport was first used in the Second World War as RAF Stansted Mountfitchet by the Royal Air Force and the United States Air Force as a major maintenance centre and a bomber airfield.
The airport began commercial operations in 1966 and was given to BAA to control, and Stansted was mainly used for holiday charter airlines who could make the most of cheaper costs as opposed to using Gatwick and Heathrow.
It is London’s third largest airport, after Heathrow and Gatwick after the British government in 1984 approved a plan to develop the airport in two phases to ease pressure from Heathrow and Gatwick. The plan was for an airport that could handle up to 15 million passengers a year with a new terminal building that would be built in 1991.
The main terminal building that was built, is an oblong glass building designed by the world renown architects, Foster & Partners. The design of airport provides an unobstructed flow for passengers to arrive at the short-stay car park and move into the check in hall, through security and to the departure gates which are all on the same level in the airport.
It has one passenger terminal and three passenger satellites where the departure gates are located. One of the departure gates is connected to the main terminal by an air-bridge and the other two are connected by the Stansted Airport transit System people mover.
The airport is connected to London by trains from Stansted Airport railway station which run hourly to London Liverpool Street station, and regular coach services to Stratford, Golders Green and London Victoria. It is also located close to the M11 motorway which connects London to Cambridge and is about 30 minutes drive from London, to give quick links into the capital.
London Stansted Airport only has one runway which serves the airport. There have been plans for a second runway but these have been postponed because of protests from residents of nearby villages.
London Stansted’s air traffic control tower is one of the tallest air traffic control towers in Britain and is located at the north east end of the airfield. It is so tall because it needs to be able to view satellite 3 clearly as that is where most of Stansted’s aircraft movements occur.