The new operator of Luton airport unveiled plans yesterday to triple passenger numbers to 20 million a year in an attempt to ease mounting air traffic congestion in south-east England.
TBI, which took over Luton in May after buying out Barclays' controlling stake for £58m, said expanding the airport would eliminate the need for another runway in the South-east. Keith Brooks, TBI's chief executive, said passenger numbers at Luton could be increased from last year's 6.5 million to 10 million without any significant investment. However, a further expansion to 20 million would probably require more terminal facilities and a direct rail link into the airport.
The airport – Bedfordshire's biggest employer, supporting 8,500 jobs – is negotiating a new agreement on landing charges with easyJet, its largest customer. Mr Brooks said he expected to sign a deal "satisfactory to both sides" before 1 August, when an interim agreement with easyJet expires. Under the present arrangements Luton charges easyJet £5.50 a passenger, compared with the airport's standard tariff of £7.89.
Mr Brooks refused to disclose what the new charges were likely to be but said it was in all interests for an accord to be agreed giving easyJet long-term certainty and the incentive to continue to expand at Luton.
Pre-tax profits for TBI rose last year by 6 per cent to £19.3m, thanks to a strong performance from its Cardiff and Belfast airports. But Stockholm's Skavsta airport and its airport services arm performed poorly. Mr Brooks said TBI was keen to buy more UK airports.Reuse content