In a first for the Essex gateway, a double airbridge has been introduced – which is capable of being used to access the upper deck of Airbus A380s.
An Emirates Boeing 777 has become the first scheduled aircraft to use London/Stansted’s new £1.5 million double airbridge (pictured). According to the airport, this boosts its “ability to handle long-haul aircraft”.
While this allows two main deck entry points for widebody types such as the 777, in turn making aircraft turnaround times more efficient among others, the airport hinted its double airbridge “can also be used to access the upper deck of Airbus A380s”.
Emirates resumed rotations to Stansted – its third London airport served after Heathrow and Gatwick – on August 1 of this year and the route is currently flown daily using 777-300ERs. The question on many minds is whether the carrier might deploy one of its 100+ super jumbos to Essex now that the airport has the gate infrastructure in place.
Nick Millar, London Stansted’s operations director, said: "This investment marks a significant milestone in our recovery and is part of an ongoing programme of upgrades we're making at the airport to enhance the customer experience. The brand-new airbridge will allow passengers travelling on widebody aircraft like Emirates’ Boeing 777 to board and disembark more quickly and comfortably using two doors instead of one.
“We already have the capacity to handle all types of aircraft, but the new bridge will enhance our long-haul handling capabilities, future-proof our airfield infrastructure and improve performance for our passengers and airlines.”
The latest addition complements Stansted’s existing 11 single-door airbridges. The majority of its scheduled airline operations – dominated by low-cost carrier Ryanair – do not use airbridges at all, with passengers boarding via the apron.
Stansted, which is owned and operated by Manchester Airports Group (MAG), handled 28 million customers in 2019 (pre-COVID). Passenger figures for August 2022 were at their highest since the start of the pandemic, 2.6 million travellers passing through its doors.
While there has been no official indication from Emirates that it is bringing the A380 to Stansted, capacity restrictions at Heathrow, and the super jumbo’s deployment at other Emirates UK gateways including Manchester, Gatwick and even Glasgow, means it remains an interesting, if not immediate possibility.