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Business groups back airport expansion plans

THREE of the largest business organisations in the region have backed plans by London Luton Airport to increase its annual passenger limit from 18 million to 19 million.

Employers organisation the CBI East of England, Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Small Business East of England say the plans will boost the region’s economic recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CBI says a thriving airport can be “a cornerstone of the region’s economic rebound”.

Although it has been badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the airport is seeking to make the changes now to ensure that it can support the national and local economic recovery from the pandemic by accommodating increased passenger demand when it is safe to travel again.

The planning application follows a public consultation held in October 2020 and seeks to allow it to accommodate an additional one million passengers in the future. It will not require any physical changes or new construction at the airport, and the airport will continue to operate within the existing terminal infrastructure.

A full environmental impact assessment has been submitted as part of the application, as well as the development of carbon reduction plan to build on the airport’s environmental management practices to reduce its carbon footprint, in line with its ambition to become net zero. 

Richard DeNetto, CBI East of England associate director, said: “London Luton Airport is vital to the success of the East of England and its growth ambition shows confidence that the aviation sector is ready to play a leading role in the region’s post-Covid recovery. 

“Luton has been heavily impacted by the pandemic and the airport’s plan can stimulate much-needed job creation, both at the airport and in its wider supply chain. Enhanced domestic and international connectivity would also provide a timely fillip for businesses of all sizes and sectors.” 

Justin Richardson

Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce chief executive Justin Richardson said the airport is a key driver of the regional economy. “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the aviation industry and its supply chain,” he added.

“This is an important step in accelerating recovery for the whole community. Aviation will be a key driver of our economic recovery both here in Bedfordshire and beyond.”

The application will now be assessed by the local planning authority. 

The FSB’s development manager Jade Uko said: The airport is a vital player in the local supply chain. These plans will ensure the airport is in the best possible position to recover quickly and in turn ensure many of our members will be able to continue to benefit from a successful airport.”

London Luton’s chief executive Alberto Martin said: “Aviation has always played a crucial role in the UK economy, through the jobs it supports, the direct economic contribution it makes and its support for international trade.

Alberto Martin

“I am grateful that the airport’s contribution and value has been recognised by local businesses.

“As people start to travel again and the UK’s economic recovery begins, we want LLA to be in the best position to support both of those things. By submitting this application now, we are preparing the airport for future success and creating reassurance for the thousands of people and businesses who rely on us.”

In 2019, LLA directly provided 10,900 jobs and supported a further 17,300, contributing £1.1 billion to the local economy in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire and £1.8 billion to the UK economy. It also paid local suppliers more than £46 million for their work during the same period, which accounted for 30% of all supply chain spend during the year.

Mr DeNetto said: “The CBI welcomes these proposals and believes a thriving London Luton Airport can be a cornerstone of the region’s economic rebound.”


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