Manchester Airports Group, owner of London Stansted Airport, has signed an agreement with EasyJet Plc (EZJ) aimed at more than doubling the discount carrier’s traffic from the busiest airfield outside the capital city.
The accord will boost EasyJet’s Stansted traffic to 6 million passengers over the next five years, from 2.8 million today, Manchester Airports said in a statement. Europe’s No. 2 low-cost carrier currently operates eight aircraft on almost 30 routes from the facility, located about an hour north of London.
The deal comes three months after MAG agreed to buy Stansted for 1.5 billion pounds ($2.35 billion) in cash. The airport, which lies about an hour north of London, attracted 18 million people in 2011 and specializes in low-cost services, with Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA) as its No. 1 operator. Designed by U.K. architect Norman Foster, it ranks as London’s third-busiest airport behind Heathrow, Europe’s most frequented, and Gatwick south of the capital.
“We’re working hard with existing and prospective airlines to drive passenger growth at Stansted,” Manchester Airport Chief Executive Officer Charlie Cornish said in the release. “We strongly believe that London Stansted has a key role to play in any debate on South East capacity.”
A government-appointed task force led by Howard Davies, a former U.K. Financial Services Authority chief, is considering options to expand the U.K.’s airport capacity. The task force is scheduled to publish an interim report next year, recommending short-term options, and a final report by mid-2015, after the next parliamentary election.
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