Serving more European destinations than any other UK airport, London Stansted Airport is located around 50 kilometres north-east of the English capital within the Essex district of Uttlesford. It serves as an important base for major European low-cost carriers, together with offering flights to North Africa, Central and North America.
London Stansted Airport is the third largest airport in the city after Heathrow and Gatwick. It operates from one main passenger terminal where the check-in counters are found, together with three passenger satellites where the gates are located, connected by an air-bridge and people mover buses. It is the newest of all London’s major airports, with its glass building and “floating” roof designed to resemble a swan in flight and create an unobstructed flow of passengers as they move through the terminal building. There is also an additional building, the Advanced Passenger Vehicle, which links passengers by bus to remote aircraft stands during the particularly busy periods. The terminal includes more than 60 shops selling duty-free items, souvenirs and travel goods, as well as money changers, bars, restaurants and cafes. There are a variety of different airline lounges, together with a multi-faith prayer room and chapel. The airport is a particularly important hub for low-cost carrier RyanAir which has flights to more than 130 destinations across Europe, as well as EasyJet and Jet2 which both fly to popular holiday destinations.
The airport is connected to Central London and the London Underground by the Stansted Express train, with a station located directly below the airport terminal. National Express also has frequent coach services into the city and beyond, while metered taxis are available outside the terminal building.
The airport first opened in 1943 as RAF Stansted Mountfitchet and was used by the Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces as a bomber base during World War II. The Ministry of Civil Aviation finally took over in 1949, and it was used by UK charter airlines, gradually being developed as a third London airport to relieve congestion at Heathrow and Gatwick during the 1960s and 70s.