London Luton Airport is hosting a week-long exhibition at the palace of Westminster to celebrate its 80th anniversary.
The event kicked off with a reception at the house of commons earlier, attended by a number of ministers and members of parliament including the secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling and aviation minister Baroness Sugg.
The past 80 years have seen LLA grow from a municipal aerodrome to a major international airport.
Last year was its busiest-ever year, with 15.8 million passengers travelling through the airport, an 8.6 per cent increase from 2016.
To meet increased demand, the airport is currently undergoing a £150 million transformation to increase its annual capacity to 18 million passengers by 2020, and upgrade facilities for passengers.
In 2018, LLA will be marking several important milestones in its transformation, including the official opening of the newly-extended terminal building.
Construction will also begin on a new mass passenger transit system, which is being delivered by Luton Borough Council.
Once complete, the system will operate 24 hours a day and replace the current shuttle bus between Luton Airport Parkway station and the terminal, reducing the total journey time from central London to under 30 minutes.
Despite being London’s fastest-growing major airport, LLA remains the only one without an express-style rail service.
LLA is therefore calling for four trains per hour to stop at Luton Airport Parkway as part of the new East Midlands rail franchise.
This can be achieved through a simple timetable change that would require no capital expenditure and would create significant economic growth in the local region and across the UK.
Nick Barton, chief executive of LLA, said: “The airport has come a long way in 80 years.
“The exhibition celebrates our history, but also looks to the future, as this anniversary year will see some of the airport’s biggest changes.
“To ensure the airport thrives for another 80 years, we need to ensure rail links are as strong as they can be.
“We have that opportunity as part of the East Midlands rail franchise, which allows us to create an express-style rail service to the airport through a simple timetable change.
“We’re working with the government and rail operators to try to make this happen.”