London Luton Airport Limited a company owned, according to its Twitter feed, by Luton Borough Council, is currently consulting on expanding passenger capacity from 18m to 36m passengers. When justifying the doubling of passenger capacity Luton Councillors claim the people of Luton will benefit from increased job opportunities. However, increased job opportunities are not the only benefit. Other benefits are increases in donations by London Luton Airport Limited to charities based in Luton and the surrounding area, who provide services that would in the past have been provided by Luton Borough Council, and the potential to reduce Council Tax.
Nevertheless, analysis of publicly available planning applications, financial statements, Government Council Tax statistics and ONS Labour Market statistics show that since doubling passenger capacity from 9m to 18m passengers in 2013, London Luton Airport Limited’s profits have increased, donations to local charities have decreased, Council Tax has increased, and the job opportunities created have not necessarily been taken up by the people of Luton.
According to London Luton Airport Limited Financial Statements in 2013 London Luton Airport Limited Financial Statements 31 March 2013 donations to charities totalled £15.995m, and company profit was £10.995m and in 2017 London Luton Airport Limited Financial Statements 31 March 2017 donations to charities totalled £10.326 m, and company profit was £46.927m. Therefore, profits due to doubling passenger capacity, from 9m to 18m passengers rose by £35.932m and donations to charities reduced by £5.669m.
Further, Government Council Tax statistics Band D Council Tax Statistics show in 2013 Band D Council Tax excluding precepts was £1207 per year and in 2017 Band D Council Tax excluding precepts was £1356 per year, an increase of £149 per year. Also, ONS Labour statistics Labour Market Statistics show in 2013 there were 8900 people aged16 years and above classified as Economically Active and 2017 there were 6000 people of 16 years of age and above classified as Economically Active, amounting to a reduction of 2900 people aged 16 years and above gaining employment. Clearly this downward trend in unemployment reflects the national trend however it is not possible for any Councillor to justify that all or any of these 2900 people have been employed as a direct consequence of expansion in London Luton Airport passenger capacity.