Luton Airport has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the early 1900s. The airport, originally called Luton Municipal Airport, was officially opened in 1938 by the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood. However, the site of the airport had been used for aviation purposes since 1919, when a flying club was established at the location.
During World War II, Luton Airport played a crucial role in the war effort as it was used as a base for the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces. The airport was heavily bombed during the war, but it continued to operate, supporting military operations and serving as a hub for aircraft manufacturing.
After the war, the airport was returned to civilian use and saw a rapid growth in commercial air traffic. In 1952, Luton Airport became the first airport in the UK to offer a direct flight to New York, making it a key international gateway. This led to the construction of a new terminal building in the 1960s, which was designed to handle the increasing number of passengers.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Luton Airport experienced a decline in passenger numbers due to the opening of nearby airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick. However, in 1998, the airport underwent a major redevelopment project to modernize and expand its facilities, including the construction of a new terminal and runway extension.
Today, Luton Airport is the fifth busiest airport in the UK, serving over 18 million passengers annually. It has a wide range of airlines operating from it, including low-cost carriers like EasyJet and Ryanair. The airport continues to undergo improvements and expansions, with plans for a new £225 million terminal to be completed by 2021.
Luton Airport's history is not just limited to its role as an aviation hub. It has also been the site of many important events, such as hosting the first ever air display in 1909 and being used as a filming location for the James Bond movie 'The Living Daylights' in 1987.
Despite its growth and modernization, Luton Airport has managed to retain its unique character and charm. It is known for its friendly and efficient service, making it a popular choice for both business and leisure travelers. As Luton Airport continues to evolve and adapt to the changing aviation industry, its rich history will always be an important part of its identity.