London Stansted marks 30th anniversary of official opening

The building, which was opened by Her Majesty the Queen, has seen almost 460 million people pass through since 1991

London Stansted Airport is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its iconic terminal building, which was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on March 15, 1991.

The anniversary falls during one of the most difficult times the airport has ever faced, with all flights grounded aside for those deemed essential.

Before the pandemic began, Stansted would serve around 28 million passengers per year, offering services to almost 200 destinations. When the terminal opened 30 years ago, the average passenger intake was around one million, with the airport only offering less than 50 routes.

London Stansted Airport
Photo London Stansted Airport 

In comparison, passenger numbers recorded over the last 12 months is very similar to the figures seen back in 1994.

The modernised infrastructure was established by the development of a new £400m terminal that transformed the original airfield, which was originally a World War II USAAF base. The new terminal welcomed its first passengers for a departing flight to Glasgow four days after the opening.

Since the first flight, the airport has seen nearly 460 million customers pass through the Lord Foster-designed building on almost four million flights.

“London Stansted has a long and proud history, and to be celebrating the 30th anniversary of our iconic terminal building, a building that has undoubtedly stood the test of time, is another great milestone on the airport’s journey,” said Steve Griffiths, London Stansted’s managing director.

“We can’t wait to welcome back our passengers to begin the next 30 years of Stansted’s story, and we are confident the airport has a very bright and successful future once people are able to start planning for their well-deserved summer getaways.”

London Stansted Airport
Photo London Stansted Airport 

Over the past 30 years, the site has undergone various expansions and refurbishments. In 2008, a £50m extension was added to the arrivals area. This was shortly followed by an £80m revamp of the terminal alongside a £11m upgrade to the departures area, after the airports takeover by Manchester Airports Group (MAG) in 2013.

A new shoreline check-in area was inaugurated in 2019, which directly faces passengers as they enter the terminal. Earlier this year, a £60m baggage system was implemented beneath the terminal after four years of construction.