Luton Airport Guide

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  • London Luton Airport was officially opened on 16 July 1938. The airport was owned by the Borough of Luton and was thought of as the northern terminal for London.
  • During the war, the airport was a base for 264 Fighter Squadron as well as a manufacturing site where both civil and military aircraft were designed and built.
  • In 1952, civil use of the airport resumed and a new control tower was opened.
  • During the next ten years the 'package' holiday was developed and became very popular, allowing many people to travel abroad for the first time.
  • By 1969, a fifth of all holiday flights from the UK departed from Luton Airport and by 1972 Luton had become Britain's most profitable airport.
  • 1974 saw the major tour operator Clarksons and its airline Court Line go into liquidation and Luton was hit hard.
  • In 1978 the committee began preparations to take Luton into the future and raise passenger levels to 5 million a year.
  • In 1985 a new international terminal building was opened by HRH The Prince of Wales
  • 1986 saw Monarch Crown Service launch scheduled flights to Spain and Irish airline Ryanair launch scheduled services from Luton to Ireland marking the growth of scheduled air services from Luton which represent over 70 per cent of their business.
  • In 1987 Luton International Airport became a Limited Company with Luton Borough Council as sole shareholder
  • The airport was renamed London Luton Airport in 1990 to mark its position as part of the London airport network.
  • Passenger numbers declined as in 1991 Ryanair moved a large part of its business to Stansted.
  • In 1991 a new management team was appointed to develop the airport and over the next 5 years £30million was invested in improvements to infrastructure and facilities.
  • Business continued to increase as new airlines were introduced and by 1998 passenger numbers had risen to 4.4 million a year. Luton was the UK's fastest growing airport.
  • A new private public partnership signed in 1998 meant the airport would be owned by Luton Borough Council but manages privavtely
  • In 1999 an £80 million development programme was completed improving the terminal facilities. The improved terminal was officially opened in November 1999 by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. Also at the end of 1999 Railtrack opened the £23 million London Luton Parkway station, improving transport links with central London.
  • 2001 saw 6.3 million passengers pass through the airport and passenger numbers continue to grow as demand for package holidays increases at the UK's 7th largest airport