Luton airport expansion plans move ahead

A planning application to expand Luton Airport is expected this summer after a truce in a row between its owner and operator.

Luton airport: expansion deal agreed (pic courtesy GJC1 on Flickr)
Luton airport: expansion deal agreed (pic courtesy GJC1 on Flickr)
Owner London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL), part of Luton Borough Council, proposed an expansion in January that was opposed as impractical by operator London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL).

Under that plan the airport would have increased its annual passenger numbers from 11.5 million to 18 million within its present boundary and without a new runway.

It hoped to exploit the demand for increased air traffic in the south east, given the government’s opposition to expansion at Heathrow.

But LLAOL warned that it would demand a termination fee running into millions of pounds were the council, as it had suggested, to remove it as manager of the larger airport.

In March the operator questioned the council’s growth assumptions, its ability to pay the expected termination costs, and the environmental effects of expansion on the scale proposed.

The two sides have now agreed that LLAOL will continue to run the airport until 2031 and that they will try to integrate their rival plans for expansion into a planning application this summer.

A statement said this would "ensure the main elements from both proposals are retained", but an airport spokesman was unable to say what these would be.

LLAL chair Robin Harris said: "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 south east England."

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