London Luton Seeks To Raise Passenger Cap To 32 Million

Credit: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Plans have been submitted to expand London Luton Airport (LTN) in England that would see its passenger cap increased to 32 million a year from 18 million.

Luton Rising, a council-backed company that owns the airport, has lodged the development consent order (DCO) application to the Planning Inspectorate, which will act on behalf of the UK government.

The scheme includes new terminal capacity, an extension to the current airfield platform and new airside and landside facilities. Luton Rising also intends to enhance the surface access network and extend Luton DART, an automated light rail link due to open in March.

“We hope that this will mark the start of the next phase of our commitment to grow London Luton Airport and help to deliver the employment, prosperity and positive social impact for Luton and neighboring communities that they so richly deserve,” Luton Rising CEO Graham Olver said.

The proposals have been shaped following a program of assessments, community and stakeholder engagement and consultation over the past five years. Three consultation exercises were undertaken during 2018, 2019 and 2022. Luton Rising said the expansion plans would secure the “sustainable long-term growth” of the airport.

The Planning Inspectorate now has 28 days to determine whether the DCO application meets the standards required to be accepted for examination or whether further documentation is needed. If it is accepted, the government body will have six months to complete its examination and a further three months to make its recommendation to UK Transport Secretary Mark Harper, who can then grant or refuse development consent.

Luton Airport, which is operated by a consortium that includes AENA and AMP Capital, handled 13.1 million passengers during 2022, up from 4.6 million during the previous 12 months. Traffic in 2019 was just 31 passengers shy of its 18 million cap.

Wizz Air and EasyJet are the largest carriers at the airport, collectively accounting for 86.5% of departure seats this March, data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows. Wizz Air has a 25.5% share, Wizz Air UK 20.5% and EasyJet 40.5%.

Five other carriers serve LTN at the present time: Ryanair, El Al Israel Airlines, TUI Airways, FlyOne and SunExpress. In total, the airport is connected to more than 100 points, with Geneva the airport’s biggest destination by capacity.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.