London Stansted Airport has experienced a growing passenger traffic and, perhaps surprisingly, has the capacity to handle 35 million passengers a year and has plans to increase that to 43 million, subject to planning permission.

The iconic terminal building designed by Lord Foster has broadly stayed unchanged and owner MAG is now embarking on a five-year £600m terminal transformation programme to fully modernise the facilities providing an improved passenger experience.

As part of this work, the check-in hall and baggage facilities are being completely reconfigured to provide more check-in desks and an increased self-service provision, with a more continuous, fluid shoreline layout gradually replacing the current islands. It has been crucial for the development to be carried out in phases to allow the terminal to stay fully operational, which it has.

UK-based airport furniture specialists Gate Technologies Ltd worked together with Robson Handling to develop and implement the concept established by Stansted Airport Ltd and its architects. The result is a new check-in zone providing twelve unique check-in desks with associated baggage handling systems, set against a contemporary back wall with LED lighting, FIDS and signage.

The project was carried out to an ambitious programme, with both firms being appointed only in February, but eight counters were opened in early April and a further four in early July.

The new counters have integral LED lighting to help guide passengers and assist check-in staff, whilst the lighting at the back wall (made from textured Corian®) is linked to and controlled by the building management system, offering great flexibility and mitigating the low levels of natural light.

Both check-in desks and back wall are Aviation Security in Airport Development (ASIAD) compliant, which meant liaising with an ASIAD officer during the design process and passing stringent structural tests, including those measuring blast resistance.

Gate Technologies director Tim Hodge said: “These check-in counters are a cutting-edge design with a very small footprint, making use of the smallest available ticket printers.

“What really makes them innovative is that they can operate as a full service, hosted check-in facility but can also be configured to be used as a self-service check-in, giving Stansted immense flexibility going forward.”

Early reports suggest the new check-in area is being well received by airport personnel and passengers.

Paul Willis, programme delivery director London Stansted Airport, said: “We were delighted to reach this major milestone in our transformation programme and thank Gate Technologies for playing a key role in helping us deliver the project.

“This is a really exciting time for London Stansted, our £600m transformation programme will transform the experience for millions of passengers, unlock spare capacity and provide a greater choice of destinations and airlines.”