London Luton airport is located in London and is the 5th largest airport in the UK. It serves over 9 million passengers annually with flights to over 85 destinations. Luton airport was officially inaugurated on 16 July 1938 and was owned by the Borough of Luton. Amid World War 2, Luton airport filled in as a base for the 264 Fighter Squadron and additionally as an assembling site where both common and military air crafts were designed and constructed.
In 1952, common utilisation of the air terminal continued and another control tower was opened. In the next decade, Luton airport developed the “package” holiday which gained a lot of popularity by enabling a large number of people to travel abroad for the first time. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, Luton airport was already handling a fifth of all holiday flights from the UK turning it into Britain’s most productive air terminal.
Things, however, turned sour for Luton when the majour tour operator Clarkson’s went into liquidation in 1974. In 1990, the airport was renamed to London Luton airport as a move to mark its position in the London airport network. In 1991, Luton came to realise that their woes were far from over when Ryanair withdrew from the business and shifted its business interests to Stansted airport. Ryanair owned a 70% stake in Luton Airport business at the time. The withdrawal of Ryanair resulted in a drastic decrease in passenger numbers which cost Luton airport millions in losses. An attempt was then made to sell the airport which was unsuccessful and later it was decided that a new management team would be brought in to stop the losses and increase passenger numbers. This move was successful since, in the following 5 years, £30 million was invested in the airport to improve facilities and infrastructure. The improved facilities included a new control tower, a new access road, and extension of the Luton airport parking adjacent to the refurbished passenger terminal.
It was during this period that they introduced the Airtours flights and economy airlines Debonair and Easyjet. This resulted in a drastic increase in passenger levels to 4.4 million by 1998 making it the most rapidly growing airport in the UK. In 1998, the airport signed a partnership that would ensure future financial investments. The completion of a £80 million program saw the airport acquire a modern terminal. The car park facilities were also upgraded as were the aircraft stands and the parallel taxiway. The terminal was further refurbished in 2000 with improvements to the arrival and departure area and new catering and retail outlets.
The airport has continued showing steady growth and has recently signed a £200 million to enhance the infrastructure to accommodate 10 million passengers annually. It is also planning to launch a train station to enable the passengers to enjoy the convenience of arriving at the airport by rail. This will catapult it ahead of its competition, Heathrow airport and Gatwick who only offer taxi services to their passengers. London Luton Airport’s story is truly one of extra ordinary resilience. From a humble terminal in the 1960s to UK’s 5th largest airport today, London Luton airport’s future looks very bright.