Luton Airport owners and operators agree expansion plans merger

THE owners and operators of Luton Airport have agreed to scrap their individual plans to expand the airport, and will submit a joint application instead.

London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) and London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL) have signed a heads of terms, which means that the airport will be managed, operated and developed by LLAOL for another 19 years.

Following two separate public consultations, the two parties have agreed to merge their respective plans to increase the airport capacity.

They are looking to increase it to 16.5 and 18 million passengers per annum - higher than the number originally put forward by the operators - and will submit a planning application in the summer.

Cllr Robin Harris, chairman of LLAL, said: “This is a key milestone to our journey but there remains much to be done to finalise our commercial terms. We are however, very pleased with the progress that LLAL and LLAOL have made together. There are very significant similarities and synergies between our plans and those of the operator.

“By integrating these, we have listened to the feedback of residents and of partners and have arrived at what we feel is the most efficient and effective option to ensure the continued development of the airport whilst addressing environmental concerns.

“We are confident that together we will be able to implement a plan which brings substantial benefits to the regional economy and makes a contribution to addressing the lack of aviation capacity in London and southeast England.”

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Glyn Jones, managing director of LLAOL, added: “Since 1998 we have invested more than �200 million to improve and upgrade London Luton Airport, which last year was London’s fastest growing airport and the fastest growing major airport in the UK.

“We look forward to an ongoing relationship with the owner which will enable us to build on this success. The airport has significant potential to deliver even more for the local community and wider region.”

Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion (HALE) are opposed to expansion plans due to the effect it would have on infrastructure, noise levels and residents in neighbouring Herts.

A spokesman said: “This deal is no great surprise - most local airport-watchers have observed from the very start that the Luton council expansion bid appeared to be designed to force LLAOL’s hand. Now that LLAL have been forced to act, the council can retire its proposals - which of course had been roundly criticised by the operators in any case.

“Equally it’s no surprise that Cllr Harris seeks to gloss the commercial shenanigans as being in any way related to feedback from residents: clearly this is not the case because he makes no indication of any positive changes that have been made as a result. Likewise it’s amusing to see Glyn Jones looking forward to ‘an ongoing relationship with the owner’ - having been forced at termination-point by that very owner to commit to massive further investment as the general economic situation in Europe wobbles, and in return for a measly extra few years tacked on to the remainder of their contract.

“Putting all Luton’s eggs in one basket is not a wise move: any council worth its salt would have spent the money just wasted on futureLuToN in coming up with some creative diversification schemes to boost the local economy in a sustainable way.”