East Midlands Airport under-utilised - but expansion not ruled out
Potential future plans for a second runway at East Midlands Airport have not been ruled out, though leadership says its capacity is currently far above what is currently required.
The capacity of the airport was discussed at a South Derbyshire Council meeting.
Neil Robinson, Manchester Airports Group corporate social responsibility and future airspace director, provided a range of updates on the site, which handles a large proportion of the nation’s freight flights.
When asked about potential future plans for a second runway at the site, he said London Stansted had managed to increase capacity from 43 million to 50m passengers without the need for an additional runway.
He said EMA, currently on 4.8m passengers a year, has ‘ample capacity to grow for the foreseeable future’.
Mr Robinson said: “Never isn’t a word I would use, but there is no need for one (a second runway) for the foreseeable future.
“There is room for a reasonable increase in annual passengers without the need for a second runway.”
He said land capacity for airports is a key issue, but that at EMA site the current car parking area could be used to cater for some expansion.
Mr Robinson said a key issue when looking to add an extra runway is the distance between that additional facility and the terminal, with passengers wanting to be as close as possible for a quick departure.
He was also asked about the potential impact of the planned East Midlands Freeport, aimed at bringing billions of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs to the region, with the airport as an anchor for the Government-backed project.
The scheme was said to be a testament to the airport’s reputation as ‘the country’s most important mover of international freight and the catalyst for the explosive growth’.
Mr Robinson said: “We are expecting EMA to grow. Passenger numbers have been more challenging and slower to recover than we would have hoped, but we expect freight to grow pretty strongly.
“It is difficult, the freeport, when EMA grows it helps the whole economy and the airport grows if the economy is growing, with or without the freeport. I wouldn’t expect the freeport to really change what we do.
“If our services grow it will grow the national economy. We expect EMA to get busier with freight.”