TBI aims to triple Luton air passengers

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.
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The Independent Online

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.

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