London Stansted Airport has officially opened Phase 2 of its £80m (US$120m) terminal transformation project that features 12 new cafes, bars and restaurants, 70% more seating, free wi-fi, charging points, and the installation of flight information display screens along all main thoroughfares and in all shops and F&B outlets.
The new departure lounge has a real focus on the passenger journey and attracted significant interest from the food and beverage industry, with over 70 tenders received for the 12 positions available.
Speaking at the opening of the new F&B area on April 27, Beth Brewster, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) retail director, commented, “Thank you for everyone who has come today to celebrate the completion of Phase 2. For me, this a journey that started a couple of years ago when myself and some colleagues got a PDF of the airport and started to draw with a big marker pen what the new departure lounge could look like. What you see here today is pretty much exactly what we drew, and that is a huge credit to everyone who has helped us build that over the last 18 months.
“When we went out to tender for the 12 F&B units last September, we were blown away – we had over 70 brands bid for 12 units which is amazing. It is one of the best headaches I’ve had in my entire career!
“It was really enjoyable to whittle that down and get the best mix of brands. We’ve tried hard to make sure that we offer something so [that] regardless of your budget or taste, our 12 fabulous units offer something for every passenger coming through the airport.”
Brewster added, “We’ve got a number of airport firsts: Coast to Coast has opened its first UK airport restaurant; Harris+Hoole has launched its first ever airport location, offering the best decaf coffee anywhere in the UK; and we’ve got the first ever James Martin Kitchen, which is fabulous.
“We’ve also got some healthy options, including itsu and Leon, and we’ve tried hard to bring something a little bit different with bespoke units including Cabin, and Halo’s fizz bar, which has been specifically designed just for Stansted.
“Our new Wetherspoons [The Windmill – right] is without a doubt the most amazing airport pub I have ever seen. Currently the best airport bar award is held by The Red Lion at Gatwick – watch this space! This is now the best airport bar in the world.
“None of this would have been possible without our F&B partners, who took our vision and have absolutely translated it to stunning affect, so a big thank you from me to all our partners today – we couldn’t have done it without them.”
Celebrity chef James Martin was just one of the many new vendors at the event and was celebrating the launch of his brand new Kitchen concept, a premium bakery offering fresh farm ingredients.
“This is the very first store, and when we initially came up with the idea about two years ago, the fundamental thing was using great ingredients at the heart of every dish,” explained Martin.
“We want to offer something different and the wow factor that Stansted was looking for, and I think we’ve delivered. There are a lot of global brands here so to get the wow factor you’ve got to offer a point of difference and that’s what we’ve done.
“I didn’t want to do a restaurant because that has been done. Bakery and great ingredients are at the heart of me and so I wanted to make sure we offered the best of ingredients that don’t taste manufactured.
“Stansted is the fastest growing airport in Europe and is introducing a new concept that I think is great. My mates are at other airports and I’ve seen their projects, but I thought this was a great airport to be involved in.”
The latest milestone in the Stansted transformation project follows the previous openings of a new, bigger security area and the first phase of the retail upgrade, including a new flagship World Duty Free store, and has created a further 300 full and part-time jobs at the airport.
MAG chief executive, Charlie Cornish, who officially opened the second phase of the project, said, “When MAG acquired Stansted we set a clear vision to transform the terminal and improve its facilities. Having returned the airport to growth and once again made it the fastest growing major airport in the UK, with nearly 21 million passengers using the airport each year and passenger numbers up 25% in March alone, the timing for this £80m investment in the terminal building couldn’t be better.”