Published on Monday, February 25, 2013

Calls to delay Luton's expansion over news of airport sale

Calls to delay planning permission for Luton airport's expansion have come following news that the airport may be sold off by its Spanish owner.

The infrastructure group, Abertis, has appointed City and AZ Capital to look into the sale of Luton, Belfast and Cardiff airports, reports the Sunday Times.

But protesters against the expansion of Luton argue any plans should be put on hold in the wake of a potential sale.

Andrew Lambourne of HALE - Hertfordshire Against Luton Expansion - said: "In terms of Luton airport expansion the timing of this news couldn't be worse, since it clearly threatens the investment on which their hugely expensive expansion plans are based.

"The airport has not yet secured its planning permission - and given the significant grounds for objection, this is not going to be an easy ride.

"In a climate where many business are consolidating rather than taking risks, particularly in an airport business so dependent on the future price of oil and on decisions by airlines who will be shopping around for the

cheapest landing fees, a postponement of the planning application may well be in the best interests of Luton.

"The last thing Luton Borough Council would want is for them to overstretch and then go bust."

Abertis was caught in a dispute with Luton council last year when the council threatened to terminate its contract which runs until 2031 because it did not believe the airport site was being developed.

Eventually all parties agreed to a £100million revamp.

The Welsh government is reported to be close to signing a deal to buy Cardiff from the Spanish firm.

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