Luton Airport has re-opened its terminal following the latest phase of a renovation project that aims to double passenger handling capacity by 2020.

The £160m three-year redevelopment aims to make journeys easier, quicker and more comfortable.

The number of passengers has already increased by 35% since the modernisation work started. More than 16.5 million passengers are expected to fly in 2018, which is an increase of 5% in comparison with 2017.

The UK’s Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said: “Luton’s investment firmly puts passengers at the heart of development and will improve the experience of those using the airport for business or holidays.

“Supporting thriving airports such as Luton will form a part of the government’s Aviation 2050 consultation, ensuring the benefits of transformation are felt across the local area.”

“The redevelopment will also increase the airport’s economic contribution to the local economy to £1.4bn by 2030.”

The upgraded terminal features seating areas, free Wi-Fi and 30 new stores, as well as a new boarding pier with eight additional boarding gates and an expanded security area.

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The upgrade also includes a new dual carriageway, a bus interchange and a multi-storey car park.

The Bedfordshire Chambers of Commerce’s chief executive Justin Richardson said: “The culmination of Luton Airport’s redevelopment marks a significant moment for the local community, which is set to benefit from the creation of 10,000 new jobs.

“The redevelopment will also increase the airport’s economic contribution to the local economy to £1.4bn by 2030, allowing local residents to share in the benefits of a fast-growing and successful international airport.”

Owned by Luton Borough Council, the airport is set to undergo further expansion to attract 38 million passengers per annum by 2050.

The airport first opened in July 1938.