The plan is the latest key development in Luton Council’s ambitious 20-year Luton Investment Framework, a £1.5 billion inward investment programme to create 18,500 new jobs and achieve increased prosperity, health, wellbeing and opportunity for residents.
The proposal is the airport’s response to the government’s recent call for evidence, seeking growth in the aviation sector, and for all UK airports to make best use of their existing runways.
Nationally, demand for aviation is showing a projected shortfall in UK airport capacity of 60 million passengers per annum by 2050.
Luton Council is the sole shareholder in London Luton Airport Ltd. LLAL chair Cllr Andy Malcolm, 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 £1.5 billion 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 million passengers per annum 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 £76 million uplift for the regional economy, estimates from Oxford Economics suggest.
Cllr Malcolm said: “There is now a vital need to plan for London Luton Airport’s long-term future to ensure the regional economy can enjoy the benefits of this through inclusive growth and to help meet demand for UK aviation.
“At the same time, 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 begun to develop its plans for improvement within a new long-term environmental strategy for the airport. New best-in-class air quality monitoring, which will measure a wider range of potential pollutants than any other major airport in the UK, has already been commissioned.
Construction is due to start next year on the £225 million passenger transfer service Luton DART (Direct Air to Rail Transit) which promises to revolutionise public transport to the airport and slash journey times from Luton Airport Parkway to the terminal to three minutes.
Under the London Luton Airport Vision for Sustainable Growth 2020-2050, passenger capacity would increase from 18 million to between 36 million and 38 million a year. The airport would accommodate 240,000 annual air traffic movements.
Growth at the airport would be achieved by making the best use possible of the airport’s existing, single runway.
Through LLAL, London Luton Airport generates significant direct income for Luton Council, contributing £25.6 million for vital services and infrastructure investment in 2016/17.
In addition, more than £120 million has been provided since 2004 to local charities, community and voluntary organisations in Luton and communities affected by airport operations.
Luton Council leader Cllr Hazel Simmons said: “The past few years have been financially challenging for many people. To meet some of these challenges, we have been working hard to bring more money and opportunities into the town to improve people’s lives.
“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 will begin consulting on the masterplan in mid-2018. The likely outcome is that LLAL will need to submit an application for a Development Consent Order to the national Planning Inspectorate, as it would be considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.
Cllr Malcolm said: “Our vision is to make best use of the existing runway to provide the maximum benefit to the local and sub-regional economy, deliver good levels of service to all the airport’s customers and to actively manage environmental impacts at the local and wider levels in line with our commitment to responsible and sustainable development.
“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.
“We will work tirelessly to keep everyone informed of developments and proposals as soon as they emerge, and make sure everyone has an opportunity to feed into the process and provide comments which will be very carefully considered at every step on this important journey.”
The London Luton Airport Vision for Sustainable Growth 2020-2050 is available to view online at www.llal.org.uk