A major terminal upgrade at London Luton Airport is set to begin after the UK Government granted approval for the project.
The Department for Communities and Local Government has confirmed that Luton Borough Council may proceed to grant consent for its airport planning application.
The expansion project will double the airport's capacity to 18 million passengers a year, with an investment of £98m
Airport managing director Glyn Jones said: "We are delighted that after a thorough process, the council can proceed to grant planning permission for London Luton.
"We see this as a real vote of confidence in the airport and its future, underlining the determination of our new owners, Ardian and Aena, to develop and radically improve London Luton and deliver a better airport experience for our passengers in the years to come.
"The opportunities it brings for the local economy in terms of jobs and investment are significant, and Luton can now press ahead with making its local airport bigger and better, while remaining a good neighbour," Jones said.
The terminal upgrade plans could allow 45,000 extra flights and create 5,000 new jobs, according to London Luton Airport Operations.
Construction on the new project will be executed in three phases, and involves expansion, modernisation and remodeling of the terminal building.
The revamp of the terminal includes setting up of nearly 20 security passenger screening lanes, 15 immigration passenger screening lanes, and eight international and one domestic passenger luggage reclaim belts.
The project also involves increased retail, catering, circulation and seating areas, building of a new two-storey pier, and dualling of the road from the Holiday Inn Roundabout to new road system in front of the central terminal area.
Among other upgrades are construction of a parallel taxiway to increase capacity for an additional six million passengers annually, and a new multi-storey car park.
Before the plans were formally submitted, the expansion plans were subject to two public consultations, and about 65% of respondents who took part in the consultation on LLAOL's development plans said they supported proposals to develop the airport.
London Luton Airport handled 9.6 million passengers in 2012.
Image: The expansion project will double the airport's capacity to 18 million passengers a year. Photo: courtesy of Steff.