The Dart Link – Luton Council paying £225 million

The DART Link from Luton Airport Parkway to the existing terminal is costing the Council £225 million.   London Luton Airport Ltd are borrowing the money from Luton Borough Council, who in turn are borrowing the money themselves.

Page 8 of the Luton Borough Council’s 2017/18 Statement of Accounts makes the following statement: “A significant pressure over the next few years is an expected reduction in the level of dividend payable by London Luton Airport Ltd, due to the cost of debt financing required to expand the airport. As passenger numbers grow the subsidiary’s ability to pay higher dividends will return”

So with the council claiming there will be a drop in dividends the question has to be asked will the town’s tax payers suffer?

Once opened in late 2021 the DART will replace the shuttle buses, and shave a few minutes off the journey time but it will make no difference to the airport’s existing capacity that will be reached one year before the DART opens. We have to question why the council is borrowing £225 million when the council has no idea if it will get planning permission to expand the airport from the government. We also have to ask who is going to pay for the maintenance contract to maintain the DART.

At the moment 15.7% of airport passengers arrived by train.   LLAL goal is to increase this to a Gatwick figure of 34% so how will more passengers using the train affect the numbers arriving by some other form of road transport if the airport is expanded?

Latest CAA passenger numbers for April 2019 show 17,305,000 passengers used Luton Airport. If we deduct 15.7% then 2,716,885 passengers arrived by train which means 14,588,115 passengers arrived by some form of road transport.   LLAL press release  states they seek an airport with an ultimate capacity of up to 38,000,000.  Allowing for an increase in rail use to 34% means 12,920,000 passenger journeys will involve rail so 25,080,000 passengers would arrive by road transport. The difference between the two figures means that journeys to the airport by road would increase by just over 70% if the airport expanded to its maximum published level

Link to ‘Luton today’ reporting the rise in Council Tax:

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