Background

The pages in this section explain the flight tracks to and from Luton Airport, which organisations are responsible for regulating its operations, what happens to the money being made by the airport, how aircraft noise is defined and measured, and how government tackles – or doesn’t tackle – the problems caused by aircraft noise.

Flight tracks
It can be confusing trying to work out whether a noisy aircraft is flying where it should be; why they seem to fly in different locations and directions on different days; and why they are sometimes more noisy than others. Our track diagrams explain clearly and simply what’s going on.

Who’s responsible?
Confused about which companies and organisations are responsible for operating Luton Airport, setting flight schedules, dealing with the noise, setting limits on its operations, deciding the flight paths, specifying the times at which aircraft are allowed to operate? Our handy guide to who’s responsible can help you get it all straightened out, and distinguish between all the confusing acronyms.

Financial merry-go-round
The Airport operating concession currently generates around £50m per annum. Since the Airport is owned by Luton Borough Council on behalf of the people of Luton, one would expect this money to be paid to the Council, but it’s not. Instead, what is effectively public money is paid to the airport holding company LLAL, whose Board then decides how to spend it – without public accountability or scrutiny. And even more oddly, the Board comprises Members of Luton Borough Council wearing different hats. Our financial merry-go-round page tries to unravel what’s going on, and raises disturbing questions…

Aircraft noise
There are many different ways in which the annoyance caused by overflying aircraft can be related to data which can be measured and used to control what an airport is permitted to do. The number of flights per hour, the individual noisiness of each flight, the times of day or night when flights occur, all contribute to the “aircraft noise nuisance” – and of course the evidence of the climate change impact is written in the sky in the form of contrails. Our aircraft noise briefing explains in more detail.

Government “policy” on aviation noise
Does the government have a policy on aviation noise? Well, yes it does. Does the policy mean anything? Well, not exactly – it’s so ambiguously worded that you could fly a fleet of Jumbo Jets through it – and that’s exactly what the powerful aviation industry lobby does. Read our government “policy” page to find out more…