Swift lobbying work by the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) and its members appears to have averted the threat of a new limit on the number of non-airline movements at London Stansted Airport. Following discussions with the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT), it has been confirmed that the 10,000-movement limit will apply only once a new overall threshold of 264,000 annual movements has been reached.
According to BBGA chief executive Guy Lachlan, by the time airline traffic at Stansted reaches this level, business aviation will largely be excluded from the airport anyway because it will effectively be unable to get slots anymore–as has been the case at London Heathrow Airport for several years. During 2007, the total number of movements at Stansted was 191,488. This represented growth of just 0.7 percent over the previous year, and, given that economic conditions have worsened significantly over the past 12 months, the 264,000-movement total now seems a distant prospect.
However, Stansted has been approved to build a second runway to begin operations in 2015, and has also had its annual limit for passengers raised from 25 million to 35 million. As part of the deal for these contentious decisions, local politicians built in a potential limit of 10,000 on “private aviation” movements. This category of traffic was defined as any not-for-hire movement or any commercial operation of an aircraft with up to 10 passenger seats.
Local FBO Universal Aviation brought the clause to the attention of BBGA. DfT officials subsequently admitted to BBGA that they had not even been aware of the restriction on non-scheduled movements. However, subsequent discussion confirmed that this limit will take effect only when the airport reaches the overall movements ceiling. Lachlan told AIN that he is pressing DfT to investigate how such a clause could have escaped the attention of central government and to take steps to ensure that this cannot happen again in the context of a major transport planning process.
According to Universal Aviation operations manager Sean Raftery, there were around 17,000 non-scheduled movements at Stansted in 2007. He estimated that fewer than 10,000 of these would have fallen into the class of aircraft with fewer than 10 passenger seats.