Luton Airport

Coordinates: 51°52′29″N 000°22′06″W / 51.87472°N 0.36833°W / 51.87472; -0.36833
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

London Luton Airport
Airport typePublic
OwnerLuton Rising[1]
OperatorLondon Luton Airport Operations Ltd
(Aena 51%; AMP Capital 49%)[2]
ServesGreater London, Bedfordshire, eastern Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire
LocationLuton, England, United Kingdom
Opened16 July 1938; 85 years ago (1938-07-16)[3]
Hub forDHL Aviation
Operating base for
Elevation AMSL526 ft / 160 m
Coordinates51°52′29″N 000°22′06″W / 51.87472°N 0.36833°W / 51.87472; -0.36833
LTN/EGGW is located in Bedfordshire
Location in Bedfordshire
LTN/EGGW is located in England
LTN/EGGW (England)
LTN/EGGW is located in the United Kingdom
LTN/EGGW (the United Kingdom)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
07/25[4] 2,162 7,093 Asphalt
Statistics (2022)
Passenger change 21/22Increase185%
Aircraft movements87,783
Movements change 21/22Increase111%
"2010 to 2017 Statistics". London Luton Airport.

London Luton Airport (IATA: LTN, ICAO: EGGW) is an international airport located in Luton, Bedfordshire, England, situated 1.7 miles (2.7 km) east of the town centre,[5] and 29 miles (47 km) north of Central London.[5] The airport is owned by London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), a company wholly owned by Luton Borough Council, and operated by London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL).[6][7]

An airport was opened on the site on 16 July 1938. During the Second World War, the airport was used by fighters of the Royal Air Force. Commercial activity and general aviation flight training at Luton resumed during 1952. By the 1960s, Luton Airport was playing a key role in the development of the package holiday business; by 1969, a fifth of all holiday flights from the UK departed from Luton Airport. From the mid-1960s, executive aircraft have been based at the airport. During the late 1970s, an expansion plan was initiated at Luton to accommodate as many as 5 million passengers per year, although the airport experienced a reduction in passenger numbers in the 1980s. In 1990, the airport was renamed London Luton Airport to try and emphasise the airport's proximity to the capital.

The arrival of new operators at Luton during the 1990s, such as charter operator MyTravel Group and new low-cost scheduled flights from Debonair and EasyJet, contributed to a rapid increase in passenger numbers that made it the fastest growing major airport in the UK. In August 1997, to fund an £80 million extension of the airport, a 30-year concession contract was issued to a public-private partnership consortium, London Luton Airport Operations Limited. Throughout the 1990s, £30 million was invested in Luton's infrastructure and facilities. In November 1999, a new £40 million terminal was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip; the new building houses 60 check-in desks, baggage and flight information systems and a range of commercial outlets. During 2004/5, the departure and arrivals lounges and other facilities were redeveloped at a cost of £38 million.

In 2018, over 16.5 million passengers passed through the airport, a record total for Luton making it the fifth busiest airport in the UK.[8] It is the fourth-largest airport serving the London area after Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and is one of London's six international airports along with London City and Southend. The airport serves as a base for easyJet, TUI Airways, Ryanair and Wizz Air and previously served as a base for Monarch Airlines until it ceased operations in October 2017. The vast majority of the routes served are within Europe, although there are some charter and scheduled routes to destinations in Northern Africa and Asia.


Early history[edit]

Luton Municipal Airport was opened on the site on 16 July 1938 by the Secretary of State for Air, Kingsley Wood.[9][10] Situated where the valley of the River Lea cuts its way through the north-east end of the Chiltern Hills, the airport occupies a hill-top location, with a roughly 40 m (130 ft) drop-off at the western end of the runway.[11][12][13] The airport, which was owned by the Borough of Luton, was considered to be the northern terminal for neighbouring London.[14]

During the Second World War, the airport was used by the Royal Air Force, fighters of No. 264 Squadron being based there.[14] Following the end of the conflict, the site was returned to the local council. In 1952 activity at the airport resumed on a commercial basis, a new control tower being opened around this time.[14]

British aviation company Percival Aircraft had its factory at the airport until the early 1960s. Since the mid-1960s, executive aircraft have been based at the airport, initially operated by McAlpine Aviation. These activities have grown and several executive jet operators and maintenance companies are currently based at Luton.[15][citation needed]

In the 1960s, Luton Airport played a key role in the development of the package holiday business, in which the popularity of the foreign holiday rose substantially, as the launch of new services had allowed greater numbers of people to travel abroad for the first time.[14] Luton became the operating base for several charter airlines, such as Autair (which went on to become Court Line), Euravia (now TUI Airways, following Euravia's change of name to Britannia Airways and subsequent merger with First Choice Airways and TUI rebrand) and Dan-Air.

By 1969, a fifth of all holiday flights from the UK departed from Luton Airport; during 1972, Luton Airport was the most profitable airport in the country.[14] However, Luton suffered a severe setback in August 1974 when major package holiday operator Clarksons and its in-house airline Court Line (which also operated coach links) ceased operations and were liquidated.[9] Nevertheless, by 1978, the airport's management initiated an expansion plan as to allow Luton to accommodate as many as 5 million passengers per year.[14]

1980s and 1990s[edit]

The airport's logo 2001–2005
The airport's logo 2005–2014

During the 1980s, the airport experienced a decline in customer numbers; this was due to lack of reinvestment while the nearby London Stansted Airport, which was also located north of London, was growing. The council responded to lobbying and focused again on developing the airport. In 1985, a new international terminal building was opened by the then Prince of Wales (now Charles III).[14] Further updates and changes over the following 15 years were made, including the opening of a new international terminal and automated baggage handling facility, a new control tower with updated air traffic control systems, a new cargo centre and runway upgrades. In 1987, Luton Airport became a limited company, of which Luton Borough Council was the sole shareholder; this reorganisation was taken as it was felt that the airport ought to be operated at arm's length via an independent management team.[14]

While developing the basic infrastructure, various business partners were courted and business models were considered. The process envisaged a cargo centre, an airport railway station, and people mover from station to airport terminal (hence the unused underpass parallel to the road as one approaches the terminal).[citation needed] During 1991, an attempt was made to sell Luton Airport, but it was unsuccessful; instead, a new management team was appointed to turn around the business, stem the losses, and improve passenger numbers. Over the following five years, £30 million was invested in Luton's infrastructure and facilities.[14]

Originally, the airport's runways had been grass tracks 18/36 and 06/24, and then a concrete runway 08/26. By the end of the 1980s, there was only one runway, 08/26. The 18/36 grass runway had disappeared under a landfill, while 06/24 had effectively become a taxiway. For Luton to maintain viability, it was necessary to update airfield services, and achieve CAT III status. This meant updating the instrument landing system (ILS); glidepath and localiser and removing the hump in the runway; even a six-foot person could not see one end of the runway from the other. The hump was removed by building up layers at the end of the runway; this was done over 72 successive nights between October 1988 and February 1989, with the height being raised 90 mm on one particular night. During the course of this work, the airport would re-open for flights during the day.[citation needed]

In 1990, the airport was renamed London Luton Airport to re-emphasise the airport's proximity to the UK capital.[14] In 1991, another setback occurred when Ryanair, which had flown from the airport to Ireland for a number of years, transferred its London operating base from Luton to rival Stansted. A decline in passenger numbers at Luton was attributed to this move.[14] Later in the 1990s, MyTravel Group began charter flights from the airport, using the Airtours brand and new low-cost scheduled flights from Debonair and easyJet, the latter making Luton its base.[9] The arrival of these new operators marked a rapid increase in passenger numbers; during 1997/1998, 3.4 million people travelled via the airport, while 4.4 million travellers were recording during the following year, making Luton Airport the fastest growing major airport in the UK.[14]

In August 1997, to fund an £80 million extension of the airport, the council issued a 30-year concession contract to a public-private partnership consortium, London Luton Airport Operations Limited, a partnership of Airport Group International (AGI) and Barclays Private Equity. AGI was a specialist airport management and development company once owned by Lockheed Martin. In 1999, AGI was sold to TBI plc; in 2001, Barclays also sold its shares in Luton to TBI plc.[9]

On 25 November 1999, a new £40 million terminal designed by Foster + Partners was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. This terminal houses 60 check-in desks, baggage and flight information systems and a wide range of shops, restaurants and bars.[9] The airport's railway station, Luton Airport Parkway was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on the same day and was built at a cost of £23 million. By train, journey times to the airport from central London would be reduced to less than 30 minutes.[14]

Development since the 2000s[edit]

In September 2004, Luton Airport embarked on a 10-month project to develop the departure and arrivals lounges and other facilities at a cost of £38 million; this work included a 9,000 sq ft (800 m2) area featuring a spectacular vaulted ceiling was completed with the new terminal, but intended to lie unused until required. On 1 July 2005, the new departure hall opened on schedule, featuring a boarding pier extending 200 m (660 ft) out between the airport's north and east aprons and relocated security, customs and immigration facilities, as well as an expanded number of boarding gates from the previous number of 19 to 26.[16]

In 2004, the airport management announced that they supported the government plans to expand the facilities,[17] which included a full-length runway and a new terminal.[18] However, local campaign groups, including Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN)[19] and Stop Luton Airport Plan (SLAP)[20] opposed the new expansion plans, for reasons including noise pollution and traffic concerns; LADACAN also claimed that various sites, including Someries Castle, a Scheduled Monument, would be threatened by the expansion. On 6 July 2007, it was announced that the owners of London Luton Airport had decided to scrap plans to build a second runway and new terminal for financial reasons.[21] In order for the airport to expand further, the Department for Transport (DfT) advised the airport authority to use the airport site more efficiently. The DfT supports plans to extend the runway from its current 2,160 m (7,087 ft) length to 3,000 m (9,843 ft) and increase the length of the taxiway. A full-length runway would increase airlines' operational flexibility by enabling the use of aircraft that have a greater payload capacity and longer range than is currently possible. A longer taxiway would maximise runway use by reducing the need for taxiing aircraft to cross or move along the runway.[citation needed]

In January 2005, London Luton Airport Operations Limited was acquired by Airport Concessions Development Limited, a company owned by Abertis Infraestructuras (90%) and Aena Internacional (10%), both Spanish companies.[9] In November 2013, ownership of London Luton Airport Operations Ltd passed to Aena and Ardian.[2] In April 2018, AMP Capital acquired Ardian's 49% stake in the business.[22]

By 2006, the last flight training operator had ceased training from the airport.

From 2006 to 2008, Silverjet operated long-haul flights to Newark and Dubai from a dedicated terminal, but ceased operations due to the global economic crisis.[23]

In September 2016, La Compagnie announced it would cease operating its Luton to Newark service citing economic reasons.[24] Therefore, Luton lost its only long-haul service. In February 2017, Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air announced it would to open its first British base at Luton Airport inaugurating three new routes to Tel Aviv, Pristina and Kutaisi[25] in addition to more than a dozen already served ones from other bases.

In December 2018, a three-year redevelopment of the airport commenced. Costing roughly £160 million, the airport management stated that the upgrade, which included new shops, a new boarding pier, and more boarding gates, would increase overall capacity by 50%, enabling the site to accommodate 18 million passengers by 2020. Campaigners from local pressure groups such as LADACAN have complained that the airport had failed to incorporate noise reduction measures into the plan, while an airport spokesman stated "Our noise control measures are some of the most stringent of any major UK airport", noting that it had applied for additional flight restrictions.[26] In addition, earlier that year, work had commenced on the construction of the Luton DART, an automated guided people mover which will travel between Luton Airport Parkway station and the airport.[27][28] With costs estimated at £200 million, DART eliminated the need for shuttle buses since its opening on 27 March 2023. Luton Dart: ‘the most expensive train in Britain’ opens for business [29]


The airport remains in municipal ownership, owned by Luton Borough Council but managed by the private sector London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL). London Luton Airport has a Civil Aviation Authority Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P835) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. An indicator of the importance of the airport to the economy of Luton is that Luton is reported to have the highest number of taxicabs per head of population in the United Kingdom.[30]


Waiting area
Control tower next to Hangar 89, the easyJet head office


Luton Airport has a single, two-storey passenger terminal building which has been expanded and rearranged several times. The ground floor has a main hall equipped with 62 check-in desks (1-62), a separate security screening hall, as well as some shops, service counters and the arrivals facilities.[31] After the security screening hall, stairs lead to the departures lounge on the upper floor, where several more stores, restaurants and all 30 departure gates[32] in three side piers (1-19, 20-28 and 30-43) can be found.[31][33] One airport lounge is located inside the terminal.[31]

Runway and aprons[edit]

The airport possesses a single runway, running roughly east to west (07/25),[34] with a length of 2,162 m (7,093 ft)[5] at an elevation of 526 ft (160 m). The runway is equipped with an Instrument Landing System (ILS) rated to Category IIIB, allowing the airport to continue operating in conditions of poor visibility.[35][36]

All the airport facilities lie to the north of the runway. The terminal and aprons have an unconventional layout for a commercial airport, with terminal drop-off, bus stands, taxi ranks and short-term car parks being accessed facing south towards the runway, being connected by a road. This road tunnels under a taxiway which connects the western apron area to the runway's taxiway network. There are approximately 60 stands available for aircraft, with 28 dedicated gates, which are all hardstands. All of these stands are located on the northern side of the terminal building, away from the runway and connected to it by a U-shaped set of taxiways and aprons that together encircle the terminal; recently, an accident caused by a vehicle fire in the Terminal 1 Car Park has left the car park destroyed.[11][12]

The northern side of the U-shaped apron is ringed by a continuous line of hangars and other buildings, emphasising the fact that Luton is a major maintenance base for several airlines including TUI Airways, EasyJet, and previously Monarch Airlines. By contrast to the heavily built up apron area, the airport's southern boundary is entirely rural with only a few isolated farm buildings and houses close to the airport boundary.[11][12]

Other tenants[edit]

EasyJet's head office is Hangar 89 (H89), a building located on the grounds of London Luton Airport; the hangar, a former Britannia Airways/TUI facility, is located 150 metres (490 ft) from the former site of EasyLand, the previous headquarters of EasyJet. Hangar 89, built in 1974, has 30,000 sq ft (2,800 m2) of office space and can house two aircraft the size of an Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 at one time. When EasyJet received H89, it had a 1970s style office setup. EasyJet modernised the building and painted it orange.[37]

In addition, TUI Airways head office is at the airport, and previously Monarch Airlines, along with that of Monarch Group, was in Prospect House, on the grounds of the airport.[38][39]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and cargo flights to and from London–Luton:[40]

Dan Air[41] Bacău
easyJet[42] Aberdeen, Agadir, Alicante, Amsterdam, Antalya, Barcelona, Belfast–City, Belfast–International, Berlin, Bordeaux, Catania, Edinburgh, Enfidha,[43] Faro, Fuerteventura, Geneva, Glasgow, Gran Canaria, Hurghada, Inverness, Jersey, Kraków, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Lisbon, Lyon, Málaga, Marrakesh, Milan–Malpensa, Naples, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Pisa, Porto, Prague, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Sharm El Sheikh, Tel Aviv (resumes 27 October 2024),[44][45] Tenerife–South, Venice, Zürich
Seasonal: Bodrum, Chania, Corfu, Dalaman, Giza,[46] Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck, İzmir, Madrid, Menorca, Montpellier, Murcia, Mykonos, Olbia, Palermo, Pula, Reus,[47] Rhodes, Rovaniemi,[48] Salzburg, Santorini, Split, Thessaloniki, Tivat,[49] Turin, Zakynthos
El Al[50] Tel Aviv
FlyOne[51] Chișinău
Ryanair[52] Alicante, Barcelona, Béziers, Bologna, Bydgoszcz, Cork, Dublin, Faro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Kaunas, Kerry, Knock, Kraków, Lanzarote, Lublin, Málaga, Malta, Naples, Rzeszów, Seville, Tenerife–South, Treviso,[53] Vilnius
Seasonal: Athens, Burgas, Catania, Grenoble, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca,[54] Turin[55]
SunExpress[56] İzmir
Seasonal: Antalya
TUI Airways[57] Lanzarote
Seasonal: Corfu, Dalaman, Enfidha, Innsbruck, Kos, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos (begins 7 May 2025),[57] Rhodes, Tenerife–South
Wizz Air[58] Amman–Queen Alia, Antalya, Athens, Bacău, Belgrade, Brașov,[59] Bratislava, Bucharest–Otopeni, Budapest, Burgas, Bydgoszcz, Chișinău, Cluj-Napoca, Constanța, Craiova, Dalaman, Debrecen, Gdańsk, Giza,[60] Iași, Istanbul, Katowice, Kaunas, Košice, Kraków, Larnaca, Lisbon, Lublin, Plovdiv, Poprad-Tatry, Poznań, Prague, Pristina, Salzburg,[61] Sarajevo,[62] Satu Mare, Sibiu, Skopje, Sofia, Suceava, Tallinn, Târgu Mureș, Tel Aviv,[63] Timișoara, Tirana, Varna, Vilnius, Warsaw–Chopin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Grenoble, Hurghada,[64] Palma de Mallorca, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Sharm El Sheikh, Split, Tromsø


DHL Aviation[65] Leipzig/Halle, Milan–Malpensa


Traffic development[edit]

Annual passenger traffic at LTN airport. See Wikidata query.
Year Number of passengers[nb 1] Number of movements[nb 2] Freight
(tonnes)[nb 3]
1997 3,238,458 63,586 21,354
1998 4,132,818 70,667 25,654
1999 5,284,810 79,423 23,224
2000 6,190,499 84,745 32,992
2001 6,555,155 83,707 23,070
2002 6,486,770 80,924 20,459
2003 6,797,175 85,302 22,850
2004 7,535,614 94,379 26,161
2005 9,147,776 107,892 23,108
2006 9,425,908 116,131 17,993
2007 9,927,321 120,238 38,095
2008 10,180,734 117,859 40,518
2009 9,120,546 98,736 28,643
2010 8,738,717 94,575 28,743
2011 9,513,704 97,574 27,905
2012 9,617,697 96,797 29,635
2013 9,697,944 95,763 29,074
2014 10,484,938 101,950 27,414
2015 12,279,176 116,412 28,041
2016 14,551,774 131,536 25,464
2017 15,799,219 135,538 21,199
2018 16,581,850 136,511 26,193
2019 18,216,207 142,011 29,093
2020 5,550,821 59,769 31,155
2021 4,674,800 41,650 25,545
2022 13,324,491 87,783 31,049

Busiest routes[edit]

Busiest routes to and from Luton (2022)[67]
Rank Airport Total
1 Bucharest 457,368 Increase 100.3%
2 Amsterdam 414,313 Increase 705.7%
3 Málaga 381,189 Increase 198.1%
4 Budapest 363,070 Increase 160.1%
5 Tel Aviv–Ben Gurion 360,729 Increase 675.1%
6 Warsaw–Chopin 342,471 Increase 176.1%
7 Dublin 328,568 Increase 286.1%
8 Belfast–International 323,881 Increase 99.1%
9 Kraków 304,450 Increase 205.4%
10 Palma de Mallorca 295,609 Increase 214.3%

Ground transport[edit]


The airport lies a few miles away from the M1 motorway, which runs southwards to the M25 motorway and London, and northwards to Milton Keynes, the Midlands and the north of England. The airport is linked to M1's Junction 10 by the dual-carriageway A1081 road. There is a short stay car park adjacent to the terminal, together with medium and long term on airport car parks to the west and east of the terminal respectively and linked to the terminal by shuttle buses. Pre-booked off airport parking is also available from several independent operators.


Luton Airport Parkway station

Luton Airport Parkway has served the airport since 1999. It is on the Midland Main Line from London St Pancras, between which, journeys take as little as 22 minutes on East Midlands Railway services.

In 2016, Luton Airport commissioned a study, with the support of the CBI, easyJet, the Federation of Small Businesses, and the Bedfordshire and the Hertfordshire Chambers of Commerce (among others) which sought to explore opportunities to expand rail services to and from the airport. The study found four fast trains per hour from central London was possible.[68]

Negotiations are underway with the Department for Transport to extend the validity of the Oyster card contactless ticketing system to the airport.[69] Contactless bank cards (but not Oyster cards) became valid for journeys to and from London from October 2019.[70]

Airport transit[edit]

Luton DART airport transit

A light rail/automated guided people mover, Luton DART, provides a connection between the airport terminal and the railway station. The transit was officially opened by King Charles III in December 2022.[71] It opened to passengers on 10 March 2023 operating a limited service for four hours per day, with the 24-hour service coming into effect around the end of the month. Shortly after, the DART transit replaced the shuttle bus service.[72]

The single fare for the DART is £4.90. Rail tickets marked "Luton Airport" include the price of the DART transit.[73] Concessions are given to Luton residents, and free travel is provided for holders of concessionary travel passes and disabled blue badge holders, and for airport workers.[74]


The train2plane Luton Airport bus
The Luton to Dunstable Busway route

Local buses connect Luton Airport with Luton town centre and other nearby places.

The airport is served by the Route A of the Luton to Dunstable Busway, a bus rapid transit route which connects the airport with Luton Town Centre and the neighbouring towns of Dunstable, Houghton Regis and Milton Keynes. The buses, operated by Arriva Shires & Essex, run on a segregated guided busway track between Luton and Dunstable.[75]

Conventional bus services also operate, connecting the airport with towns and cities in the region and parts of north London, including the 100, operated by Arriva, which offers an hourly daytime connection to the nearby towns of Hitchin and Stevenage; Metroline service 84A; Courtney Buses coach service to Bracknell.[76]

Direct coach services to London include Green Line route 757 operated by Arriva Shires & Essex and the A1 operated by National Express which operate competing services to and from Victoria Coach Station. EasyBus services operate towards Liverpool Street station. A range of longer distance National Express services linking Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick Airports as well as destinations in the Midlands and North of England.[76]

There are also three services around the airport operated by APCOA Parking which operate 24 hours a day serving the terminal, mid stay, long stay, and staff car parks. The service that serves the staff car park also serves the car hire centre and rental companies and all stops in between including the Holiday Inn Express, the TUI Airways HQ And the ID Unit.[clarification needed] A new fleet of six Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses were purchased for these operations during 2014.

A range of other bus services operated by off-site parking companies also serve the airport. These include Airparks, Paige Airport Parking, Centrebus and Coach Hire 4 U. The latter two operators provide staff shuttle buses on behalf of TUI and EasyJet.

A former airport shuttle bus linking the airport and Luton Airport Parkway railway station has been replaced by the Luton DART rail transit, which came into service in March 2023.[72]

In popular culture[edit]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • 4 November 1949: A Hawker Tempest single-engined piston fighter being operated by Napier Aircraft on a test flight crashed at the airport, killing the test pilot.[81]
  • 23 December 1967: A Hawker Siddeley HS 125 (registration: G-AVGW) of Court Line crashed shortly after taking off from Luton Airport, killing both pilots. The aircraft had been on a training flight. The crash occurred when the crew simulated an engine failure on takeoff. The HS 125 lost height rapidly and hit the roof of a nearby factory. This resulted in a post-crash fire.[82]
  • 3 March 1974: A Douglas DC-7C/F (registration: EI-AWG) operating an Aer Turas Teo charter flight from Dublin landed on runway 08 just after midnight but failed to achieve reverse thrust. Normal braking application also appeared to the crew to be ineffective and the emergency pneumatic brakes were applied. All main wheel tyres burst. The aircraft overran the runway and continued over the steep bank at the eastern perimeter finally coming to rest in soft ground 90 metres beyond. The situation had also been made worse by an inadvertent application of forward thrust by the crew in trying to achieve reverse thrust. Three of the six passengers and two of the four crew were injured. The aircraft was badly damaged and deemed a write-off.[83][84]
  • 18 April 1974: A BAC One-Eleven 518FG (registration: G-AXMJ) operating Court Line Flight 95 was involved in a ground collision with Piper PA-23 Aztec (registration: G-AYDE) after the Aztec entered the active runway without clearance. The pilot of the Aztec was killed and his passenger was injured. All 91 people on board the One-Eleven successfully evacuated after take-off was aborted.
  • 21 June 1974: A Boeing 727-46 (registration: G-BAEF) operating a Dan-Air charter flight to Corfu hit the localiser antenna while taking off, thereby rendering the runway's ILS inoperative. After being told by Luton air traffic control about the incident, the crew flying the aircraft elected to divert to London Gatwick where it landed safely without harming its 134 occupants (eight crew members and 126 passengers).[85] The subsequent investigation revealed that the aircraft only just became airborne at the end of the runway, and as the ground fell away to the Lea valley below, the aircraft actually followed a downsloping course until finally gaining positive climb. The report concluded that there had been a cumulative effect of three factors – erosion of take-off run available; delay in starting rotation; and a very slow rate of rotation – as a result of the flightdeck crew's miscalculation of the aircraft's takeoff weight (too high), a wrong pressure ratio for two of the aircraft's three engines (too low) and a sub-optimal choice of runway based on the use of outdated wind information that omitted the latest update's tailwind component.[84][86]
  • 29 March 1981: A Lockheed JetStar 1329 (registration: N267L) operating an inbound flight from Nigeria overran runway 08 and came to rest down the embankment beyond the eastern perimeter fence. The accident was caused because the pilot landed well past the touchdown zone in poor visibility at night. At the time runway 08 did not have an ILS. The co-pilot suffered severe spinal injuries but the commanding pilot and seven passengers escaped with only minor injuries.[87]
  • 15 January 1994: A Bell 206B JetRanger helicopter (registration: G-BODW) rolled over on takeoff. One of the rotor blades sliced into the cabin, killing the pilot. The aircraft was badly damaged and deemed a write-off.[88]
  • 18 July 2022: During the 2022 United Kingdom heat wave, and with air temperatures close to 40°C (104°F) the runway melted and flights were forced to be diverted to Stansted, Bristol and other nearby airports. This led to severe delays for flights to and from the airport. The issue was rectified on the same day with flights resuming by the evening. [89]
  • 10 October 2023: At around 9pm, a large fire broke out in Terminal Car Park 2, causing the partial collapse of the car park building. According to Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, it was caused by a car fire that spread to other vehicles. Four firefighters and a member of airport staff were taken to hospital by the ambulance service.[90] As a result of the fire, the airport suspended all flights until 3pm the following day.[91] It was reported that up to 1,500 cars in the car park were unsalvageable.[92] A man was later arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.[93]

Future expansion plans[edit]

Luton Airport may be expanded further east into adjacent parkland (top middle of the photo)

In February 2019, London Luton Airport Limited announced plans to expand the airport by building a second terminal. The expansion would increase airport capacity to handle 32 million passengers per year 2039. The enlarged airport would continue to operate using the existing single runway.[94]

LLAL have outlined several options for the site of the new Terminal 2. Most of the proposals involve a development that will encroach upon Wigmore Valley Park, a designated County Wildlife Site;[95] an alternative site to the east would encroach upon the London Green Belt, and a further option proposes siting a new terminal to the south of the runway.[96] A public consultation in October 2019 included plans for a third stop on the Luton DART transit, which has been completed in 2023, transporting passengers from Luton Airport Parkway station to the concourse of the airport.[97][98]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Total number of Terminal and Transit Passengers during each year.
  2. ^ Total number of flight movements (take-offs and landings) during each year.
  3. ^ Total volume of freight (tonnes) during each year.


  1. ^ "Luton Airport owners rebrand to become Luton Rising". BBC News. Cambridge: BBC English Regions. 18 November 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Ardian sells 49 percent stake in Luton Airport concession to AMP Capital". Reuters. 24 April 2018. Archived from the original on 24 April 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Happy Birthday LLA". Archived from the original on 28 July 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
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External links[edit]

Media related to London Luton Airport at Wikimedia Commons