The commercial aim of the 2013 Luton Airport planning application was to increase the throughput of people and planes. Although the passenger capacity is set to double from 9 million per annum in 2011 to 18 million per annum by 2028, the corresponding increase in the number of flights per year is projected by the airport operators to be 60% (99,000 in 2011 versus 157,000 in 2028).
This means that the existing planes will be carrying more passengers, and that newer and larger aircraft will be added to the fleet. This will inevitably alter the noise mix, but the hope is that the older and noisier types – in particular the A300 freighters, and the Boeing 737s – will be phased out: but this depends on the airlines, not the airport.
However, even if some planes are marginally quieter, there will be 60% more of them compared to 2011, and the travesty is that the extra flights are disproportionately loaded into the early morning and late evening periods – to suit the airlines, who want to fly their planes out and back as many times as they can during the day.
The graph below, using figures from the airport’s noise consultants, shows clearly how the number of flights between 5am and 7am (early morning) and 10pm-midnight (late evening) – both periods when people may be trying to sleep – are set to DOUBLE.