Luton Airport: location and ownership
Due to the position of county boundaries, Luton Airport is an a small promontory of south Bedfordshire which juts down into north Hertfordshire. The airport is owned by Luton Borough Council, which receives significant revenue from the operating concession. However, the low-level arriving and departing flights fly over the towns and villages of north Hertfordshire, which do not receive any direct income from Luton Borough Council. It could be said that Hertfordshire gets the pain, while Luton gets the gain – although noise from arriving and departing flights does affect south Luton.
Commercially, the airport is owned by London Luton Airport Limited (LLAL) which itself is owned by Luton Borough Council. Various Luton Borough Councillors (including people on the Development Control Committee which oversees planning decisions in Luton) act as directors of this company. The operating concession is held by London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL) whose major shareholder is Spanish infrastructure group AENA. Essentially Luton Airport is run as a business asset to make money for Luton Council.
Although the airport runs consultative groups with representation from local councils and campaign organisation, these groups have no jurisdiction over it and no means by which to compel the airport operators to make decisions. The communities impacted by noise, pollution and traffic are represented at committee discussions, but have little or no power to change anything – and sometimes what may be an improvement for one community would make matters worse for another.
Luton Airport’s vital statistics in pictures…
VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) grew to exceed Holiday as the commonest reason for travel from Luton Airport between 2000 and 2010, with business travel declining (source: DfT Transport Statistics 2010)
Source: Luton Airport Annual Monitoring Reports 2006, 2011
Source: AMR 2011 Luton Airport – ave hourly flights 7th busiest day 8th July
Source: AMR 2011 Luton Airport, Crown Copyright acknowledged.
Noise has increased over recent years as aircraft have got bigger and the distance travelled has increased. Source: Annual Monitoring reports and NTSC report.
Luton was second only to Manchester in numbers of passengers arriving and departing by car (source: DfT Transport Statistics 2011 as above)