Luton Rising – Robbing the Poor to Give to the Rich?

On Tuesday  23rd November, the BBC website published the latest example of how Luton Rising (LR), (A.K.A. London Luton Airport Ltd  or LLAL) think they can best serve their shareholders, the residents of Luton.

In a gesture to “safeguard” employment, LR decided to give the airport operator, London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, £45 million over a three-year period.  This is the same airport operator that invoked force majeure clauses in the Concession Agreement in March 2020, and hasn’t paid LR a penny since, despite knowing the perilous financial state LR and LBC were/are in, due to cuts in airport income.

LLAOL has two shareholders, AENA the national Spanish airports authority, and AMP Capital, a global investment manager based in Australia.  As of November 2021, AENA had a market capitalisation value of $23.11 BILLION (U.S)

In 2020 figures show AMP Capital has assets under value of $190 BILLION (AUS)

LR has a net worth of £490 million, and debts of circa £507 million, plus interest. – key-financials

These figures clearly show who should be “safeguarding” airport jobs and it’s certainly not LR, whose duty should be financing and protecting the service budgets of Luton.

In our opinion there is a hint of very bad taste behind the LLAOL attitude; if we don’t get some money for our costs, surely jobs will have to go?  We also have the comment about paying the LLAOL direct-employed staff the real living wage.  Why, when they have been banking money hand over fist for years, has it taken until 2022 and this handout, to make that happen?  Indeed, as LLAOL has primarily a skills-specific workforce, how many will need this boost to income? A far greater numbers of staff in the other airport companies are paid less than LLAOL staff. Do they not matter, or will LLAOL only champion them if LR stumps up even more cash?

LR is kindly signing over £45 million of due/future income-concession income. Where is the money to fill that hole in LR accounts coming from? At 2019/20 levels, the concession fee was £2.77 per passenger, so that would mean 16.25 million passengers required to pay this off and start earning again. Is another LBC loan bailout on the cards next year?

LR gallantly states this accord has been achieved without any impact on Council Tax rates or services in Luton. The 300+ job cuts and service budget savings that happened to keep them afloat last year (when they couldn’t pay their way and needed emergency bailouts) appears conveniently airbrushed from history.  

Reference is made to local taxi drivers being allowed to service the airport again as part of this accord. What isn’t mentioned is for that this honour, the driver will have to pay £1,200 per annum for a yearly permit and their passengers £6 extra per trip to cover drop off and taxi rank charges.  The LR CEO says this scheme will not affect local residents’ finances – ask these taxi drivers and see what they say?

Finally, we ask the question which will never be publicly answered by LBC or LR regarding current debts. This kind gesture takes the total debt to a truly epic £552 million, plus interest.  

What would that money have been spent on if not paying off the debts of LR? 

We see only one logical answer, the residents and services of Luton; if you can think of others, or if the “community first” LR have any, we would be happy to hear them.

When LBC sets its 2022/23 budget early next year, we fully expect to see a full Council Tax rise, more budgets and service cuts, and shamefully, more Council staff outsourced or made redundant.  

Whilst The Good Ship Luton Rising and their highly remunerated staff sails calmly on, seeing only flat seas ahead, and never seeing the carnage they leave in their wake.

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