The owner and the operator of London Luton Airport has announced the return of a new, improved and greener local hackney carriage service at the terminal.
The move has come about as part of the joint new partnership agreement signed by the parties in November, aimed at supporting a sustainable aviation system in Luton and local jobs through the ongoing pandemic, the recovery and beyond.
The taxi rank has initially been located in the passenger drop-off zone, and during 2022 will move to a specially-constructed and dedicated area immediately outside the terminal.
Already 40 drivers attached to the Luton Hackney Carriage Association have obtained permits, and it is expected numbers will increase to around 100 over the next 12 months.
A spokesman for the Hackney Carriage Association said his members were happy to be back at the airport. Addison Lee, which has been at the airport since 2016, will continue to provide a service there. Back in 2016, local taxi drivers staged a protest at the Town Hall and also blocked roads to the airport over the decision to award a five-year exclusive airport contract to the London-based firm. Drivers claimed it would put them out of business.
Nine of the new taxis are fully electric and the rest meet the latest carbon-efficient Euro 6 standards. This already represents an investment of more £800,000 by the trade, and the figure is expected to pass £1.5m in 2022.
All the vehicles are fully accessible to people with disabilities, including wheelchair users and people with guide dogs. Drivers have signed up to a service charter, including smart dress code, with all vehicles also accepting credit cards and providing USB charging points. The local hackney carriages will operate alongside the executive vehicle service currently provided by Addison Lee.
Of the new arrangements, Councillor Javeria Hussain, chair of Luton Rising, the Luton Council company that owns the airport, said: “This is a hugely welcome step to support local employment as our company focuses on demonstrating with everything that we do how we are much more than an airport, and continuing to provide maximum economic and social benefit into the local area.
Jonathan Rayner, Chief Commercial Officer at London Luton Airport Operations Ltd, said: “This is great news for our passengers offering them more choice for their onward journeys. It’s also another example of us working in partnership with Luton Rising to support the thousands of people and the many local businesses who rely on us through the supply chain.”
As the UK’s fifth largest airport, in 2019 London Luton served almost 18 million passengers, supported 27,000 jobs in the regional economy – including 10,000 in Luton – and delivered £1.8bn economic activity for UK GDP.
Councillor Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Council, said: “We know how important our airport is to local people, supporting frontline services, improving the lives of people most in need, and supporting the livelihoods of thousands of families. This is very welcome good news for our town’s hard-working taxi drivers.”
Luton Council cabinet member Councillor Javed Hussain added: “This is a win-win, improving emissions for Luton residents, and providing employment for our delighted local taxi drivers and an extremely high level of service for airport customers with fares regulated by the council.”