London Luton Airport Terminal Car Park 2 Fire

London Luton Airport

Operational issues, air traffic control staffing, airline delays and disruption and industrial action across Europe are just some of the day-to-day challenges that LLA comms team routinely faces. However, October 10, 2023, proved to be the biggest test of London Luton Airport’s (LLA) crisis management skills. Just before 9pm, Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service was called to a fire within LLA’s Terminal Car Park 2.

Due to the severity and rapid spread, the fire was declared a major incident as firefighters battled to control the blaze and protect nearby buildings, vehicles, aircraft, and the Luton DART railway station. At its peak, the response involved over 100 firefighters from LLA’s fire service and crews from Beds, Bucks, Herts and beyond, supported by teams from Bedfordshire Police and East of England Ambulance. When extinguished several hours later, the fire had destroyed the car park and over 1,200 vehicles parked within it. With the airport closed, flights diverted, road access routes blocked, thousands of passengers disrupted and dramatic pictures emerging from the scene, there was intense media interest and scrutiny from the start. In this fast-moving crisis situation, a solid plan, swift action, strong partnerships and an omni-channel approach, ensured the airport was on the front-foot throughout. The team’s textbook response not only garnered praise from a wide range of stakeholders, passengers and those directly affected, it also ensured LLA’s overall Brand Health was unaffected, despite 8,000 items of media coverage – over a year’s coverage generated in just a few weeks.