After submitting two separate sets of proposals for the London Luton Airport development, the owner and operator have agreed to merge respective proposals for capacity expansion.
Under the agreed plan, the airport's owner London Luton Airport (LLAL) and operator London Luton Airport Operations (LLAOL) will expand the capacity of the airport to a maximum of 18 million passengers without constructing a new runway.
In January 2012, LLAL proposed a plan to increase passenger capacity to 18 million a year, while in March, LLAOL said increasing the capacity to 15 million was more realistic.
Both parties have now signed an agreement to incorporate plans and allow the airport to continue to be managed, operated and developed by LLAOL until 2031.
The final contracts between the owner and operator are expected to be signed in July 2012, followed by a planning application.
LLAL chairman Cllr Robin Harris said there are very significant similarities and synergies between the plans of the owner and those of the operator.
"By integrating these, we have listened to the feedback of residents and of partners and have arrived at what we feel is the most efficient and effective option to ensure the continued development of the airport, whilst addressing environmental concerns," Harris said.
"We are confident that together we will be able to implement a plan that brings substantial benefits to the regional economy and makes a contribution to addressing the lack of aviation capacity in London and southeast England," Harris added.
The development of plans by each party was assessed through public consultation, which resulted in a decision to incorporate LLAL's futureLuToN:Optimisation programme with LLAOL's plans for the airport.
The new merged plans are expected to improve access to the airport, enhance the passenger experience, boost capacity and create nearly 4,750 additional jobs.
London Luton Airport is the UK's fifth largest passenger airport and currently handles 9.5 million passengers.
Image: London Luton Airport, which currently handles 9.5 million passengers each year, is planned to be expanded to 18 million. Photo: courtesy of Steff.