In a bizarre turn of events, Luton Airport was actually busier than both Stansted and even London Gatwick Airport yesterday. Thanks to Wizz Air’s continued operations, the airport handled 20 movements as opposed to 12 at London Gatwick.
The aviation industry is currently faced with an unprecedented crisis. Airports that would usually see 500+ movements per day are now seeing just a handful. In fact, there were so few movements at London Stansted yesterday that the airport’s police force was able to fly a drone over the quiet aprons. London City Airport is currently closed for the time being.
20 movements at Luton
Luton Airport yesterday became the busiest airport serving London outside of the M25. Of course, Heathrow retained its title of London’s busiest airport with over 100 passenger movements. However, outside of London’s orbital motorway, things were certainly shaken up as Luton was busier than both Stansted and Gatwick. Let us take a look at the numbers.
According to CAA Statistics from 2019, behind London Heathrow, Gatwick was the United Kingdom’s busiest airport with 280,681 scheduled passenger movements. Meanwhile, Stansted was London’s third busiest with 183,514 scheduled passenger movements. Luton Airport was the fourth busiest London airport and the 6th busiest UK airport in 2019. However, this all changed yesterday.
According to data from FlightRadar24.com, yesterday Luton handled 20 aircraft movements. This was made up of solely of Wizz Air Flights to Eastern Europe, 10 departures and 10 arrivals. London Gatwick hosted 12 passenger movements, with Stansted hosting 10 passenger movements from Ryanair. Southend had two movements, both from Loganair.
Gatwick most diverse
While Luton, Southend, and Stansted were each used by only one carrier each, Gatwick was yesterday the most diverse airport. It hosted flights from Aurigny, Belavia, China Airlines, Ryanair, and Wizz Air. However, many of Gatwick’s big customers, such as British Airways, have suspended operations at the airport.
The number of flights operated to the four airports yesterday wasn’t equally distributed throughout the day. After an initial rush, things remained fairly quiet until the afternoon when services became more frequent.
Stansted eerily quiet
The lack of movements meant that London Stansted was eerily quiet yesterday. The airport typically handles in excess of 500 movements each day. However, yesterday it handled just 2% of this (excluding cargo operations).
As there were periods of the day with no operations, Essex Police was able to fly its drone over the airport to capture some stunning video. The footage showed an abundance of aircraft parked up wherever space exists. You can view it here (the more you watch the better it gets:
NOTE: While we shouldn’t need to say this, a lack of movements does not mean it is okay to fly drones near to airports without permission.