Luton Airport that was previously called Luton International Airport is located about 1.5 miles from the town of Luton and about 28 miles from London. The official date of the opening of the airport is July 16, 1938. It was opened by the Right Honourable Kingsley Wood, Secretary of State of Air, but was owned by Borough of Luton. During the Second World War, the airport served as a manufacturing site where aircraft for both military and civil purposes were built. In 1952, after the war was over, it was turned into a civil airport with a new control tower.
During the next ten years Luton Airport continued to develop. It played a significant role in the establishment of the package holiday business in the United Kingdom. By 1969 25% of all holiday flights in Great Britain departed from this airport. By 1972 it had become the most profitable airport in the country. In 1985 the Prince of Wales opened a new international terminal building to increase the number of international flights.
After an unsuccessful attempt to sell the airport in 1991, new management was hired to improve passenger numbers, develop new employment and businesses. During the next five years about 30 million pounds sterling was invested into the airport to improve its infrastructure and facilities. New established facilities included a new cargo centre, the extension and remodelling of the passenger terminal, extension of the parking lot, new access road, and installation of Category 3 Instrument Landing System.
This all led to the increase of business and introduction of new low-cost airlines, including Debonair and Easyjet. The passenger numbers also went up: the annual number of passengers increased from 3.4 million in 1998 to 4.4 in 1999. This made Luton Airport the fastest growing airport in the United Kingdom. With the help of an 80 million development programme in 1999, the airport received new 40 million terminal with modern flight information and baggage system, 60 check-in desks, a lot of restaurants, and duty-free shops. Also, by the end of 1999 London Luton Parkway Station had been opened, which made the journey from Central London to the airport much shorter – only 30 minutes.
By the year 2014 the number of passengers had reached the record 10 million people a year, and by 2017 – almost 16 million. In 2018 the airport handled 16.5 million of passengers. Today Luton Airport continues to grow and develop. It is officially recognized as the fifth largest and busiest airport in the United Kingdom, and as home to 11 airlines offering both domestic and international travel. The busiest routes from Luton Airport are Budapest, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Tel-Aviv, Barcelona, Dublin, Vilnius, Katowice and Belfast.
All terminals of the airport are open 24 hours. However, duty-free shops and restaurants have their own opening times and are usually open between 5AM and 8.30 PM.
The airport offers its passengers and visitors the following amenities and services: currency exchange, duty-free shops, cafes and restaurants, free Wi-Fi, executive lounge, chaplaincy, food court and groceries, and last-minute printing.