Strategic Meetings Summit London, 26 September,
September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
WILL four times as many passengers use Luton in 2030 as pass through it now? The Government and the airport certainly think so, and proposals have just been unveiled to meet this fourfold increase in demand.
In a 10-point outline of Project 2030, the airport”s managing director Kathryn James and Luton South MP Margaret Moran talked of the need for responsible growth and a necessity to meet predicted future demand.
They also tied the airport's development to providing a new terminal and runway in time for London hosting the 2012 Olympics.
The highlights are:
But will all this planned development really be needed and which airlines will provide the massive increase in passenger numbers. With Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick all planning major development, why should people in the south-east choose to go to Luton for their flights? Currently, the airport only has eight scheduled airlines operating from it and of these four are committed low-cost carriers, two are more or less charters and two are regional flyers.
Surely the airport needs to attract major long-haul carriers, not just its long-haul charter carriers, and more mainstream short-haul airlines to see the growth it thinks it will get. And it can”t just be a low-cost hub, as all predictions point to a major consolidation in that particular sector in the near future. So why would airlines pick Luton as a base from which to fly city pairs and give the airport its huge anticipated boost in passengers.
It certainly has room for expansion and there is a willingness from Government to help it reach its potential, unlike the London airports which rival it and which some MPs think should be opened up to more competition by the breaking up of BAA. So airlines could find the lounges, check-in desks and facilities they need through expansion of Luton, but would they find the passengers?
Like it or not, Luton still suffers from being the poor relation of the five London airports and the impression is that it takes forever to get there and it is still a charter or low-cost airport. All of the other London airports offer more scheduled flights to major European or worldwide destinations, and there is no reason why this will change in the future. And with all the airlines having already invested heavily in alternative London airports, why would they up sticks and move to Bedfordshire.
Of the airlines currently operating from there, major growth is obviously focused on Easyjet. After all, it was this airline which made Luton what it is today and allowed it to shed its exclusively charter image. Sure, the airline will grow at Luton, but who”s to say what will happen in the low-cost sector in the future or even if Easyjet will remain independently-owned. And unless the carrier decides to go global, its short-haul network is finite. So, with a great fanfare, Luton announced its intentions to the world, but the hard work starts now to convince airlines to back it, passengers to support it and the investment to prove its worth.