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Tue 21 Jan 2014 11:18 AM

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London's Stansted to target Gulf carriers in expansion

Dubai's Emirates, Abu Dhabi's Etihad and Qatar Airways are among those being pitched over the next 18 months - report

London's Stansted to target Gulf carriers in expansion

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) plans to pitch its London Stansted low-cost hub to a host of long-haul carriers, including Dubai’s Emirates, over the next 18 months in a bid to broaden its appeal, Bloomberg reported.

Operating profit at MAG, which owns Manchester, Stansted, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports in the UK, rose to £108.2m ($178m) in the six months to September 30 from £60.8m a year earlier, with the London terminal, bought on February 28, contributing £31.5m of the gain.

MAG is pursuing plans to bring intercontinental carriers such as Dubai-based Emirates to Stansted and valet parking, fast-track security and airport lounges are among an £80m enhancement plan being introduced to draw full-service players to the airport 35 miles north of London, Bloomberg said.

“Broadening our product offering is a key enabler to bring those airlines in, as we’ve done with Emirates and Etihad at Manchester,” chief Financial Officer Neil Thompson was quoted as saying.

Thompson said about 8 million people drive by the airport annually to other London airports, according to Civil Aviation Authority data, and MAG hopes the improvements will entice some of these to opt instead for Stansted.

For 2013, Stansted attracted 2.2 percent more travellers for a total of 17.8 million, aided by the busiest December in four years, Bloomberg reported. Manchester posted a 5.1 percent jump to 20.8 million, making it Britain’s third-busiest airport after Heathrow and London Gatwick.

Last month Emirates announced plans to become the first carrier to operate a regularly scheduled A380 service to London Gatwick airport.

From March 20 2014, the airline’s 489-seat A380 will replace the Boeing 777-300ER on EK flight 09/10, bringing a 36 percent increase in capacity on one of its three daily flights, the carrier said in a statement.

The airline has also not ruled out entering the competitive transatlantic market, currently dominated by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, and offer flights from Dubai to the US via the UK.

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