Luton Airport will today publish plans to double in size and raise capacity to 18 million passengers a year.

London Luton Airport will release the plans at the start of a six-week public consultation in which it aims to convince local people the expansion will benefit the area.

Unusually, the airport owner, Luton Borough Council, has a dual role as the local planning authority which will review the application.

The proposals would make use of the existing runway, but extend the airport’s road access, car parking, terminal, aircraft taxiways, aprons, piers and parking stands.

However, there are additional plans, not now being consulted upon, to increase capacity to 30 million passengers a year. The airport is run by London Luton Airport Operations Ltd under a 30-year agreement.

Luton Airport chairman councillor Robin Harris said: “Government forecasts show an air capacity shortage in the southeast of England by 2020 and we believe London Luton Airport has the ability to help.

“The benefits that flow from the airport’s development will be realised in the local, regional and national economies.”

However, he said: “We are committed to ensure any growth in passenger numbers is managed in a responsible manner. We will work hard to ensure everyone has the maximum opportunity to understand our proposals.”

The airport expects to handle 9.6 million passengers in the 12 months to the end of March, having handled 10.3 million in 2008.
Luton Borough Council argues profits from the airport, which amounted to £22 million in 2010-11, go to “benefit the town”.