Luton Airport

For other uses, see Luton Airport (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Lutong Airport.
London Luton Airport
Airport type Public
Owner Luton Borough Council
Operator London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (Abertis: 90%; Aena: 10%)
Serves London, United Kingdom
Location Luton, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom
Elevation AMSL 526 ft / 160 m
Coordinates 51°52′29″N 000°22′06″W / 51.87472°N 0.36833°W / 51.87472; -0.36833Coordinates: 51°52′29″N 000°22′06″W / 51.87472°N 0.36833°W / 51.87472; -0.36833

Location in Bedfordshire

Direction Length Surface
m ft
08/26 2,162 7,087 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 12,263,505
Passenger change 14-15 Increase17.0%
Aircraft Movements 114,083
Movements change 14-15 Increase11.9%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

London Luton Airport (IATA: LTN, ICAO: EGGW), previously called Luton International Airport,[3] is an international airport located 1.5 nautical miles (2.8 km; 1.7 mi) east[1] of the town centre in the Borough of Luton in Bedfordshire, England and is 25.22 NM (46.71 km; 29.02 mi) north[1] of Central London.

In 2015, over 12.2 million passengers passed through the airport, a record total for Luton making it the fifth busiest airport in the UK.[2] It is the fourth-largest airport serving the London area after Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, and is one of London's six international airports along with London City and Southend. The airport serves as a base for EasyJet, Monarch, Thomson Airways and Ryanair. The vast majority of the routes served are within Europe, although there are some charter and scheduled routes to destinations in Northern Africa, the United States and Asia.

The airport is 2 mi (3.2 km) from Junction 10 of the M1 motorway. Aside from Heathrow, London Luton Airport has the fastest rail connection from Central London at 22 minutes from St Pancras station, via East Midlands Trains, however passengers are transported to the terminal by shuttle-bus from Luton Airport Parkway railway station.


Early history

An airport was opened on the site on 16 July 1938 by the Secretary of State for Air, Kingsley Wood.[3] During World War II, it was a base for Royal Air Force fighters. Situated where the valley of the River Lea cuts its way through the north-east end of the Chiltern Hills, the airport occupies a hill-top location, with a roughly 40 m (130 ft) drop-off at the western end of the runway[4][5][6]

Following World War II, the land was returned to the local council which continued activity at the airport as a commercial operation. Percival Aircraft had its factory at the airport until the early 1960s.

From the mid-1960s, executive aircraft have been based at the airport, initially operated by McAlpine Aviation. These activities have grown and several executive jet operators and maintenance companies are now based at the airport, handling aircraft from all over the world.

It became the operating base for charter airlines such as Autair (which went on to become Court Line), Euravia (now Thomson Airways, following Euravia's change of name to Britannia Airways and subsequent merger with First Choice Airways), Dan-Air and Monarch. In 1972, Luton Airport was the most profitable airport in the country. It suffered a severe setback in August 1974 when major package holiday operator Clarksons and its in-house airline Court Line (which also operated local bus services) were liquidated.[3]

1980s and 1990s

In the 1980s the airport was seeing a decline in customer numbers; this was due to lack of reinvestment and Stansted. The council responded to lobbying and focused again on developing the airport, first by operating the airport at arms length via an independent management team. As a result, necessary infrastructure work was undertaken. The next 15 years saw a process of updating, including the opening of a new international terminal, an automated baggage handling facility, a new control tower with updated air traffic control systems, a new cargo centre and runway upgrades.

The original runways had been grass tracks 18/36 and 06/24, and then a concrete runway 08/26. By the end of the 80s, there was only one runway, 08/26. The 18/36 grass runway had disappeared under a landfill, while 06/24 had effectively become a taxiway. To remain a viable airport it was necessary to update airfield services, and achieve CAT3 status. This meant updating ILS; glidepath and localiser and removing the hump in the runway; even a six-foot person could not see one end of the runway from the other. The hump was removed by building up layers at the end of the runway; this was done over 72 successive nights between October 1988 and February 1989, with the height being raised 90 mm on one particular night. During the course of this work, the airport would re-open for flights during the day.

While developing the basic infrastructure, various business partners were courted and business models were considered. The process envisaged a cargo centre, an airport railway station, and people mover from station to airport terminal (hence the unused underpass parallel to the road as you approach the terminal).

In 1990, the airport was renamed London Luton Airport to re-emphasise the airport's proximity to the UK capital. In 1991, another setback occurred when Ryanair, which had flown from the airport to Ireland for a number of years, transferred its London operating base to Stansted. Later in the 90s, MyTravel Group began charter flights from the airport, using the Airtours brand and new low-cost scheduled flights from Debonair and EasyJet, the latter making Luton its base.[3]

In August 1997, to fund an £80 million extension of the airport, the council issued a 30-year concession contract to a public private partnership consortium, London Luton Airport Operations Limited, a partnership of Airport Group International (AGI) and Barclays Private Equity. AGI was a specialist airport management and development company once owned by Lockheed Martin Corp. of USA and Barclays P E was a Barclays Bank subsidiary. In 1999 AGI was sold to TBI plc and in 2001 Barclays also sold its shares in Luton to TBI plc.[3]

The main feature of the development phase in 1998 was a £40 million terminal made from aluminium and glass, based on an original design by Foster and Partners. The new terminal, which was officially opened in November 1999 by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, houses 60 check-in desks, baggage and flight information systems and a wide range of shops, restaurants and bars.[3]


The airport's logo 2005-2014
Waiting area

In September 2004, a 9,000 sq ft (800 m2) area featuring a spectacular vaulted ceiling was completed with the new terminal, but intended to lie unused until required. On 1 July 2005, the new departure hall opened on schedule, featuring a boarding pier extending 200 m (660 ft) out between the airport's north and east aprons and relocated security, customs and immigration facilities. This also expanded the number of boarding gates from the previous number of 19 to current 26.

In 2004 the airport management announced[7] that they supported the government plans to expand the facilities to include a full-length runway and a new terminal.[8] However, local campaign groups, including Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise (LADACAN)[9] and Stop Luton Airport Plan (SLAP)[10] opposed the new expansion plans, for reasons including noise pollution and traffic concerns; LADACAN also claimed that various sites, including Someries Castle, a Scheduled Monument, would be threatened by the expansion. On 6 July 2007, it was announced that the owners of London Luton Airport had decided to scrap plans to build a second runway and new terminal for financial reasons.[11] In order for the airport to expand further, the Department for Transport (DfT) advised the airport authority to use the airport site more efficiently. The DfT supports plans to extend the runway from its current 2,160 m (7,087 ft) length to 3,000 m (9,843 ft) and increase the length of the taxiway. A full-length runway would increase airlines' operational flexibility by enabling the use of aircraft that have a greater payload capacity and longer range than is currently possible. A longer taxiway would maximise runway use by reducing the need for taxiing aircraft to cross or move along the runway.

In January 2005, London Luton Airport Operations Limited was acquired by Airport Concessions Development Limited, a company owned by Abertis Infraestructuras (90%) and Aena Internacional (10%), both Spanish companies. Abertis is a European infrastructure provider, whilst Aena Internacional is the international business arm of the Spanish national airport and air traffic control organisation.[3]

From 2006 to 2008 Silverjet operated long-haul flights to Newark and Dubai from a dedicated terminal, but ceased operations due to the global economic crisis.

In September 2016, La Compagnie announced to terminate their route from London-Luton to Newark stating economic reasons.[12] Therefore, Luton lost its only long-haul service.


The airport possesses a single runway, running roughly east to west (08/26), with a length of 2,160 m (7,087 ft)[1] at an elevation of 526 ft (160 m). The runway is equipped with an Instrument Landing System (ILS) rated to Category IIIB, allowing the airport to continue operating in conditions of poor visibility.[13][14] All the airport facilities lie to the north of the runway. The terminal and aprons have a somewhat unusual layout, with ground-side access to the terminal being via a road (which goes under the taxiway) to a bus station, drop off area, taxi rank and short term car park on the runway side of the terminal building. There are approximately 60 stands available for aircraft. All of these stands are located on the northern side of the terminal building, away from the runway and connected to it by a 'U' shaped set of taxiways and aprons that together encircle the terminal.[4][5]

The northern side of the U-shaped apron is ringed by a continuous line of hangars and other buildings, emphasising the fact that Luton is a major maintenance base for several airlines including Thomson Airways, Monarch and EasyJet. By contrast to the heavily built up apron area, the airport's southern boundary is entirely rural with only a few isolated farm buildings and houses close to the airport boundary.[4][5]

The airport remains in municipal ownership, owned by Luton Borough Council but managed by the private sector London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL). London Luton Airport has a Civil Aviation Authority Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P835) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. An indicator of the importance of the airport to the economy of Luton is that Luton is reported to have the highest number of taxicabs per head of population in the United Kingdom.[15]

EasyJet's head office is Hangar 89 (H89), a building located on the grounds of London Luton Airport; the hangar, a former Britannia Airways/TUI facility, is located 150 metres (490 ft) from the former site of EasyLand, the previous headquarters of EasyJet. Hangar 89, built in 1974, has 30,000 sq ft (2,800 m2) of office space and can house two aircraft the size of an Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 at one time. When EasyJet received H89, it had a 1970s style office setup. EasyJet modernised the building and painted it orange.[16]

In addition Monarch Airlines and Thomson Airways have their head offices located at the airport.[17]


Luton Airport features one single, two-storey passenger terminal building which has been expanded and rearranged several times. The ground floor features a main hall equipped with 62 check-in desks (1-62), a separate security screening hall, as well as some shops, service counters and the arrivals facilities.[18] After the security screening hall, stairs lead to the departures lounge on the upper floor, where several more stores, restaurants and all 25 departure gates in two side piers (1-18 and 19-25) can be found.[18] Besides branches from Burger King, Starbucks, Boots UK and others, one airport lounge is located inside the terminal.[18]

Airlines and destinations


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Luton:[19]

Adria Airways Seasonal: Pristina
Blue Air Bacău, Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca (begins 26 March 2017),[20] Iași, Larnaca, Turin
easyJet Aberdeen, Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Basel/Mulhouse, Belfast-International, Berlin-Schönefeld, Bordeaux, Catania, Copenhagen (ends 25 March 2017), Dortmund, Edinburgh, Essaouira (ends 13 May 2017), Faro, Geneva, Glasgow, Hamburg, Inverness, Jersey, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Lyon, Madrid, Málaga, Milan-Malpensa, Marseille (begins 13 February 2017),[21] Munich, Nantes (begins 15 February 2017),[22] Naples, Nice, Paphos, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Porto, Reykjavík-Keflavík, Rome-Fiumicino, Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion, Tenerife-South, Toulouse, Valencia (begins 11 February 2017),[23] Venice, Vienna, Zürich
Seasonal: Antalya, Bodrum, Corfu, Dubrovnik, Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck, Mahón, Montpellier, Mykonos, Olbia, Palma de Mallorca, Pisa, Salzburg, Split, Turin (begins 10 December 2016)[24]
El Al Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion
Fly KISS Brest, Clermont-Ferrand, Strasbourg
operated by Air Nostrum
Seasonal: San Sebastián, Vigo
Monarch Airlines Alicante, Faro, Gibraltar, Lanzarote, Málaga, Porto (begins 29 April 2017),[25] Rome-Fiumicino, Stockholm-Arlanda (begins 28 April 2017),[25] Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Dalaman, Eilat-Ovda, Larnaca, Menorca, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Sharm el-Sheikh
Ryanair Béziers, Cagliari (begins 5 January 2017), Copenhagen, Dublin, Faro (begins 1 May 2017), Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Kaunas, Kerry, Knock, Lanzarote, Malta, Marrakesh, Murcia, Nîmes, Rzeszów, Tenerife-South, Vilnius, Weeze (begins 26 March 2017)[26]
Seasonal: Girona
SunExpress Seasonal: Izmir
Thomas Cook Airlines Seasonal: Corfu (begins 7 May 2017), Ibiza (begins 5 May 2017), Menorca (begins 6 May 2017), Palma de Mallorca (begins 22 May 2017)[27]
Thomson Airways Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Antalya, Bourgas, Corfu, Dalaman, Faro, Fuerteventura, Heraklion, Ibiza, Kefalonia, Larnaca, Madeira, Málaga, Menorca, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Reus, Rhodes, Salzburg, Skiathos, Zakynthos
Transavia France Paris-Orly
Vueling Amsterdam, Barcelona, Florence (begins 2 May 2017)[28], Zürich
Wizz Air Belgrade, Brno, Bucharest, Budapest, Burgas (resumes 2 January 2017), Chișinău, Cluj-Napoca, Constanța, Craiova, Debrecen, Gdańsk, Iași, Katowice, Kaunas, Košice, Kyiv-Zhulyany, Ljubljana, Lublin, Ohrid, Olsztyn-Mazury, Palanga, Poprad-Tatry, Poznań, Prague, Riga, Satu Mare, Sibiu, Skopje, Sofia, Suceava, Szczecin, Târgu Mureș, Timișoara, Tuzla, Varna, Vilnius, Warsaw-Chopin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Split


Air France Cargo
operated by MNG Airlines
Atlantic Airlines Brussels, Guernsey, Kassel, Lille, Liverpool
DHL Aviation Belfast-International, Brussels, Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, Frankfurt, Leipzig/Halle, Shannon
IAG Cargo
operated by DHL Aviation
Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Milan-Malpensa
MNG Airlines Amsterdam, Istanbul-Atatürk, Paris-Charles de Gaulle[30]
Turkish Airlines Cargo Cologne/Bonn, Istanbul-Atatürk[31]


Traffic development

London Luton Airport Passenger Totals 1997-2015 (millions)
Updated: 4 April 2016.[2]
Number of Passengers[nb 1] Number of Movements[nb 2] Freight
(tonnes)[nb 3]
1997 3,238,458 63,586 21,354
1998 4,132,818 70,667 25,654
1999 5,284,810 79,423 23,224
2000 6,190,499 84,745 32,992
2001 6,555,155 83,707 23,070
2002 6,486,770 80,924 20,459
2003 6,797,175 85,302 22,850
2004 7,535,614 94,379 26,161
2005 9,147,776 107,892 23,108
2006 9,425,908 116,131 17,993
2007 9,927,321 120,238 38,095
2008 10,180,734 117,859 40,518
2009 9,120,546 98,736 28,643
2010 8,738,717 94,575 28,743
2011 9,513,704 97,574 27,905
2012 9,617,697 96,797 29,635
2013 9,697,944 95,763 29,074
2014 10,484,938 101,950 27,414
2015 12,263,505 114,083 28,008
Source: United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Busiest international routes

Busiest international routes (2015)
Rank Airport Passengers handled % Change
2014 / 15
1 Budapest468,107Increase 9
2 Amsterdam418,006Increase 10
3 Bucharest-Otopeni417,520Increase 22
4 Copenhagen408,929Increase 1715
5 Warsaw-Chopin356,462Increase 11
6 Dublin337,349Increase 4
7 Tel Aviv-Ben Gurion313,035Increase 8
8 Katowice299,739Increase 37
9 Gdańsk234,037Increase 16
10 Paris-Charles de Gaulle267,014Increase 7
11 Geneva264,969Increase 2
12 Málaga254,198Steady 0
13 Palma de Mallorca246,102Increase 1
14 Sofia231,215Increase 53
15 Vilnius230,143Increase 21
16 Faro220,089Increase 18
17 Alicante212,983Increase 8
18 Cluj-Napoca190,976Increase 49
19 Berlin-Schönefeld182,834Decrease 2
20 Barcelona181,503Steady 0
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Busiest domestic routes

Busiest domestic routes (2015)
Rank Airport Passengers handled % Change
2014 / 15
1 Belfast International295,292Increase 23
2 Edinburgh266,562Increase 3
3 Glasgow International215,052Decrease 20
4 Inverness93,517Increase 4
5 Aberdeen71,252Decrease 4
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Ground transport


The airport lies a few miles away from the M1 motorway, which runs southwards to London, northwards to Leeds and connects to the M25 motorway. There is a short stay car park adjacent to the terminal, together with medium and long term on airport car parks to the west and east of the terminal respectively and linked to the terminal by shuttle buses. Pre-booked off airport parking is also available from several independent operators.


Luton Airport Parkway was built in 1999 to serve the airport. It is located on the Midland Main Line from London St Pancras station and can be reached from London St Pancras in as little as 22 minutes via East Midlands Trains.

Thameslink is the primary operator, with services to the following principal population centres Bedford, St Albans, London, Wimbledon, Sutton, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

East Midlands Trains (EMT) semi-fast services call hourly going south directly to London St Pancras and north to the following principal population centres Bedford, Wellingborough, Kettering, Corby, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, Beeston and Nottingham.

A shuttle bus service connects the railway station to the airport, a distance of just over a mile. There is a charge for the service. To provide additional capacity, LLAOL have contracted the shuttle service to FCC (since 20 January 2008), whose parent company FirstGroup have invested £1.3 million in a fleet of four articulated buses labelled 'StreetCars'. The new buses are 18 metres long and can accommodate up to 115 passengers plus baggage.[32]

Several schemes have been proposed to replace the shuttle bus with some form of rail link. In 2007, a proposal to replace the shuttle buses with a segregated tracked transit system was announced.[33] Ambitious plans to build a new direct railway link from the Midland Mainline to the airport were put forward in 2015, with the aim of reducing the journey time from central London to the airport to 20min and significantly increasing passenger numbers.[34] In 2016 plans were announced to build a 1.4-mile (2.3 km) light rail link from the Parkway station to the airport at a cost of £200 million. A planning application will be submitted in Autumn 2016; if approved, it is expected that construction will begin in 2017 and that the link will come into passenger service by the end of 2020.[35][36]

Negotiations are currently underway with the Department for Transport to extend the validity of the London Oyster card contactless ticketing system to Luton Airport Parkway and it is planned that Oyster will be valid for travel on Thameslink services to the airport by 2018.[36]


Bus stop in front of the control tower

Local buses connect Luton Airport with Luton town centre and other nearby places.

Arriva The Shires service A frequently links the Airport with Luton Town Centre and the neighbouring towns of Dunstable and Houghton Regis. This service operates on the Luton to Dunstable Busway which minimizes traffic disruption to its journey times. Arriva's other main bus service which serves the Airport is the 100, which offers an hourly daytime connection to the nearby towns of Hitchin and Stevenage.

Metroline buses service 84A connects the airport with new towns and cities, St. Albans and parts of north London.

Direct coach services to London include the 757 operated by Green Line Coaches and the A1 operated by National Express which operate competing services to and from Victoria Coach Station. EasyBus services operate towards Liverpool Street station. A range of longer distance National Express services linking Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick Airports as well as destinations in the Midlands and North of England.[37]

First Capital Connect FTR buses providing a link between the airport and Luton Airport Parkway railway station. This service runs every 10 minutes during the day.

There are also 3 services around the airport operated by APCOA Parking which operate 24 hours serving the terminal and Mid Term, Long term, and Staff Car parks the service that serves the staff car park also serves the car hire centre and rental companies and all stops in between including the holiday inn express the Thomson HQ And the ID Unit. These services run every 10–15 minutes and are free and are 'hop-on hop-off' to keep people moving around the airport.. A new fleet of 6 Mercedes Citaro buses were purchased for these operations during 2014.

A range of other bus services operated by off-site parking companies also serve the airport. These include Airparks, Paige Airport Parking, Centrebus and Coach Hire 4 U. The latter two operators provide staff shuttle buses on behalf of TUI and easyJet.

In the media

Accidents and incidents

See also

Notes and References


  1. Total number of Terminal and Transit Passengers during each year.
  2. Total number of flight movements (takeoffs and landings) during each year.
  3. Total volume of freight (tonnes) during each year.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "London Luton – EGGW". Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Aircraft and passenger traffic data from UK airports". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Airport History". London Luton Airport. Retrieved 16 July 2007.
  4. 1 2 3 Ordnance Survey (2006). OS Explorer Map 182 – St Albans & Hatfield. ISBN 978-0-319-23780-9.
  5. 1 2 3 Ordnance Survey (2006). OS Explorer Map 193 – Luton & Stevenage. ISBN 978-0-319-23783-0.
  6. "Ordnance Survey". Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  7. "London Luton Airport – Future Developments". Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  8. Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise – Communities affected Archived 3 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. "Luton and District Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise – Campaign Headlines". 22 January 2011. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  10. Stop Luton Airport Plan
  11. "New runway plans at Luton shelved". BBC News. 6 July 2007. Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  13. "Luton Airport Technical Data". TMC Ltd. Retrieved 20 December 2006.
  14. "Community Newsletter – August 2006". London Luton Airport. Retrieved 21 December 2006.
  15. "Luton South", UK Polling Report
  16. "New headquarters for easyJet at London Luton Airport". Easyjet. Archived from the original on 28 January 2010. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
  17. "contact us – press office." Monarch Airlines. Retrieved on 6 November 2010.
  18. 1 2 3 - Map of Departures and Arrivals at LLA retrieved 8 October 2016
  19. - FLIGHTS retrieved 9 September 2016
  20. Blue Air anunţă noi rute (Romanian)
  21. //
  22. //
  23. //
  24. //
  25. 1 2 "Monarch Airlines plans new routes in S17". routesonline. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  29. Air France flight AF 7000: Charles De Gaulle, Paris - Ataturk, Istanbul via Luton, London
  30. MNG Airlines Schedule
  31. Turkish Airlines Cargo Winter Schedule
  32. Luton on Sunday (20 January 2008). "Airport shuttle bus will charge in future". Retrieved 20 January 2008.
  33. "Blue Skies Easing the Pressure". The Monitor. Retrieved 17 July 2007.
  34. "Luton Airport reveals plans for new direct rail service".
  35. "Luton Airport could get a new £200m 'Tube-style' link". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 15 April 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  36. 1 2 Topham, Gwyn (15 April 2016). "Luton airport calls time on bus transfers with £200m fast-track to trains". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 15 April 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  37. "By Bus & Coach". London Luton Airport. Retrieved 17 July 2007.
  38. "Test Pilot Killed". News in Brief. The Times (51531). London. 5 November 1949. col C, p. 4.
  39. "ASN Aircraft accident Hawker Siddeley HS-125-3B G-AVGW London-Luton Airport (LTN)". Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  40. Air Accidents Investigation: 12/1975 E1-AWG
  41. 1 2 AIB reports on Luton incidents, Air Transport, Flight International, 13 November 1975, p. 714
  42. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 727-46 G-BAEF London-Luton Airport (LTN)". Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  43. Public transport accidents, World News, Flight International, 18 July 1974, p. 51
  44. "ASN Aircraft accident Lockheed L-1329 JetStar 6 N267L London-Luton Airport (LTN)". Retrieved 21 April 2011.
  45. "AAIB accident report Bell 206B JetRanger G-BODW London-Luton Airport (LTN)".

External links

Media related to London Luton Airport at Wikimedia Commons

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