Why London Stansted Can’t Become An International Hub Until This Happens

Being such a hub of aviation, London has 6 international airports. Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, City, and Southend. Each of these appears to cater to different sections of the aviation market. While Heathrow mostly plays host to full-service airlines, Gatwick also accommodates some low-cost airlines.

City and Southend are relatively small airports, while Luton and Stansted are predominately low-cost airports. While Stansted is trying to brand itself as a long-haul destination airport in the midst of the London capacity crisis, Simple Flying takes a look at why this won’t happen.

Stansted Express
It takes 46 minutes to get from Stansted to Central London. Photo: Stansted Express

Poor Connection Times

Currently, Stansted has particularly slow connections to central London. It only takes just 15 minutes to get from terminals 2 and 3 at Heathrow to central London with the Heathrow Express. Conversely, the Stansted Express takes a total of 47 minutes, three times that of Heathrow. Additionally, the Gatwick Express takes around half an hour when the airport is open. While the 15 extra minutes may not be a huge deal for some tourists, passengers travelling to a tight timeline may be slightly less inclined to take the detour. You can see the journey from Stansted to London in the company’s promotional video below:

Longer Distance

The distance as the crow flies from Gatwick Airport to London comes in at 38.249 miles. For Heathrow, this comes in at 22.797 miles, while Stansted comes in at 50.901 miles. As such, the time that is taken to travel on each service is roughly proportional to the distance. However, the Stansted Express also has to deal with lots of other traffic. Specifically, this includes services from Hertford and Cambridge.

Featured Video:

Every 15 Minutes

Services from London to all three airports leave approximately every 15 minutes. As such, the frequency of connections doesn’t make too much of a difference. However, for those looking to get to London quickly, the frequency doesn’t matter so much when travelling. Instead, the travel time is more key. Why spend an extra 15 minutes on the train when you could spend that 15 minutes in the office.

Stansted Express
The current Stansted Express trains are set to be replaced by brand new trains over the next few years.

To combat this, each rail operator tries to include perks with their train services. The Stansted Express offers power sockets and complimentary WiFi on their services. As such, it is easier for travellers to accomplish work on the train should they desire. Additionally, First Class ticket holders can access the fast track security lane at Stansted at no extra cost.

50% of London Passenger Growth

Speaking about the future of Stansted, the airport’s CEO Ken O’Toole said “Over the next decade, runway capacity in the south-east will be at a premium and Stansted will be responsible for delivering up to 50 per cent of London’s expected passenger growth … It’s imperative we continue to develop our route network by unlocking our spare runway capacity”.

London Stansted
Stansted Airport is looking to gain 25 new long-haul routes in the next 5 years. Photo: Stansted Airport
He added “we know that over 400,000 people are currently travelling from the London Stansted catchment area to Hong Kong each year. We need to demonstrate this strength of demand to airlines who are not currently serving Stansted.”
Have you taken the Stansted express? What did you think? Let us know in the comments down below!
2 comments
  1. As a frequent traveller living in Central London, I never use Stansted, tending to use City or Gatwick. Recently, I’ve used Southend a few times and coming home, it can be very quick, as it’s an efficient airport. The airspace is clear, so arriving early is not unknown.

    1. That’s good to hear James. Personally, I just used Gatwick for the first time in ages. I was amazed at the ease of boarding the train from stepping off the plane. It is also the most convenient for me to get home!

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