A 30-year plan to expand London Luton Airport has been unveiled, in what its owners hope will form a key part of Luton Council's £1.5bn inward investment programme.
The sole shareholder in London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) said its Vision for Sustainable Growth 2020-2050 would see passenger capacity go from 18 million to 36-38 million passenger journeys every year, without the need for an extra runway or any expansion of the existing one.
Nationally, demand for aviation is showing a projected shortfall in UK airport capacity of 60 million passengers per annum (mppa) by 2050.
Cllr Andy Malcolm, chair of LLAL and Luton Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: 'London Luton Airport is a huge success story. On the back of 44 consecutive months of passenger growth, it is the fifth largest and fastest growing major airport in the UK, sustaining an estimated 33,000 jobs across the region, and contributing more than £1.5bn per year into the UK economy.
'The airport’s growth has been so fast in fact that at its current rate it is due to reach the current permitted capacity of 18 mppa in 2021.'
For each additional one million passengers travelling through London Luton Airport every year, there is an increase of up to 800 new jobs and a £76m uplift for the regional economy, estimates from Oxford Economics suggest.
Cllr Malcolm added: 'We are acutely aware of the consequences of having an international airport on the doorstep. Our commitment is to bring forward not only a more modern and efficient but also an environmentally and socially responsible London Luton Airport.'
LLAL has commissioned new 'best-in-class air quality monitoring' equipment and construction is due to start next year on the £225m passenger transfer service Luton DART (Direct Air to Rail Transit) which promises to cut journey times from Luton Airport Parkway station to the terminal to three minutes.
Through LLAL, London Luton Airport generates significant direct income for Luton Council, contributing £25.6m for vital services and infrastructure investment in 2016/17.
Leader of Luton Council Cllr Hazel Simmons said: 'LLAL is working with us as a key partner in delivering the Luton Investment Framework, and it is clear that the airport cannot stand still if it is to pull its weight for Luton and for the UK and sub-regional economies.'
LLAL’s technical team is now working on a draft masterplan for the expansion and will begin consulting on it in mid-2018.
LLAL is then likely to submit an application for a Development Consent Order to the national Planning Inspectorate, as its expansion plans could be considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
The group aims is to secure consent within four years.
Cllr Malcolm said: 'To be clear, we will not be proposing either a second or an extended runway. We will invest all necessary time and resource to carefully consider all the infrastructure, access and environmental protection issues with neighbouring authorities, regulators and the wider community.'
The London Luton Airport Vision for Sustainable Growth 2020-2050 is available to view online here.