Luton Airport loaned £119m by council as pandemic measure

posted on 29th June 2021 by Eddie Saunders
Luton Airport loaned £119m by council as pandemic measure

By BBC

A council is to loan a further £119m to the airport it owns to help it recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Labour-run Luton Borough Council agreed on the support package for Luton Airport at a meeting on Monday.

Andy Malcolm, portfolio holder for finance, said if the loans were not agreed the council would have to “sell its most valuable asset”.

The total loaned to the airport now stood at £507m, including £124m “in response to the pandemic”.

The Liberal Democrat opposition leader David Franks has claimed the airport has been given “sacred cow status”.

The council’s Executive Committee agreed to the loan totalling £119m, plus a contingency of £20m, which the authority said took “the total current package of loans available from the council to LLAL [London Luton Airport Ltd] to £507m”.

Labour said the funds would be borrowed on behalf of LLAL and could not be used to fund “regular services”.

The party added that the loan would not have an impact on council services or the level of council tax and the airport company would pay the interest.

Details about the financial support package were not discussed in public at the meeting and Mr Malcolm said they had “no choice” to hear them in private because of commercial sensitivities.

He said other UK airports had also increased borrowing to “navigate the impacts of the pandemic”, and said it was “our duty as councillors to ensure our town recovers in the best way possible”.

He added: “Our airport has been our biggest success story over the last two decades, providing financial support for frontline services, countless partners in the community and the charity sector.

“Agreeing these funds will ensure that’s the case for the next 20 years and beyond.

“We’re in a dip at the moment and the biggest thing is about getting through that dip.

“Without agreeing these loans, the council would be left with little choice but to sell its most valuable asset at a time when it couldn’t achieve a fair – let alone optimum – price.”