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An airport was first opened on the site on July 16, 1938 by then Secretary of State for Air Kingsley Wood. During the Second World War, the airport was used as a base for RAF fighters. Following the airport grew as a commercial operator, providing the base for major tour operators such as Euravia (now Brittania Airways) and Monarch Airlines. In 1972, Luton Airport was the most profitable in the country. The airport suffered a severe setback in 1974 when one tour operator scheduling flights out of Luton, Clarksons, went bankrupt. The next fifteen years saw a process of rebuilding, including the opening of a new international terminal in 1985. At this time Ryanair flew flights from Luton to Ireland. In 1990 the airport was renamed London Luton Airport in order to boost the profile of the airport in the eyes of foreign visitors, likely to have heard of London but not Luton. In 1991, Ryanair transferred its operations to Stansted, again resulting in the decline in the airport's importance in the British transport network. This trend was dramatically reversed later in the 90s with the introduction of charter flights for Airtours and 'low cost' scheduled flights from easyJet and Debonair.
Currently, Aer Erann, British Airways Citiexpress, and low cost airlines Easyjet and Ryanair (with flights to Milan, Italy and Dublin, Ireland) fly scheduled service from Luton. Brittania Airways and Monarch Airlines fly charter service from Luton.