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Row breaks out over Luton Airport expansion plans

The operators of London Luton Airport have hit out at suggestions their 30-year concession may be broken in 2014 as part of expansion plans.

A consultation has been launched by London Luton Airport Limited, the company that owns the airport on behalf of Luton Borough Council, looking at options for the airport’s expansion to increase capacity to 18 million passengers per year.

The proposals include plans for new taxiways, stands, a new multi-storey car park and a small amount of additional new build between the newer part of the building and the original passenger terminal.

LLAL estimates the increased capacity could create up to 6,000 new jobs and generate millions of pounds of investment.The airport’s current maximum capacity is estimated at 10.3 million passengers annually and 9.6m passengers are expected to use the airport this year.

The consultation said: “The owner is… preparing a planning application to be ready if there is a decision to terminate the current concession agreement in order to optimise the potential of the airport.”

Cllr Robin Harris, chair of LLAL, said: We are at the very beginning of a journey that builds on the tremendous success we have seen through the last decade and will ultimately bring huge benefits to Luton and the wider region - with jobs and much-needed income.”

However operator London Luton Airport Operations Limited called into question a number of the proposals and stated there could be a ‘substantial’ termination payment due to them reflecting the “value of the remaining years of the concession and certain other liabilities”.

The operator added it will be launching its own proposals for the expansion of the airport later this month.

It called into question the proposals for a small amount of new build for the terminal, implying that the levels of congestion would be unacceptable to passengers.

In response, LLAL lead officer Steve Heappey said: “Through our consultation launched on Monday we seek and welcome comments, questions and feedback on our proposal to grow London Luton Airport and the benefits that this will bring to Luton and the region. 

“We will consider comments from the existing operator, alongside those of other interested parties. Any talk of termination compensation is both speculative and premature.”

London Luton Airport Operations Limited is a consortium of which Abertis Infraestructuras is a 90 per cent majority shareholder and Aena Internacional is a 10 per cent shareholder.

Click here to see the consultation proposals.

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