BAA welcomes decision to raise Stansted passenger cap

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UK airports operator BAA has welcomed a Government approval to increase by 10 million the number of passengers permitted to use London Stansted each year.

The decision, which also raises the flight cap by 23,000, will allow up to 35 million passengers and 264,000 aircraft movements annually at Stansted.

BAA chief Colin Matthews says the approval from transport secretary Geoff Hoon is an "important decision" for the airport and the UK economy.

"Our long-term growth expectations are high and it is right that we have a policy framework which encourages responsible growth and which sets out clear steps towards additional runway capacity at Stansted and Heathrow," he adds.

BAA had appealed against a local district council's decision to block planning permission at Stansted two years ago.

UK aviation minister Jim Fitzpatrick says: "There is an urgent need for additional runway capacity in the southeast. We were clear in [our aviation policy] that the first priority was to make best use of the existing runways, including using the remaining capacity at Stansted."