Leeds Bradford Airport does not expect passenger numbers to recover to pre-virus levels until 2022

Bosses at Leeds Bradford Airport have said they do not expect passenger numbers to recover to pre-Covid levels until 2022 as it pushed back its long-term target of flying seven million passengers per year.

The assessment, which has been put together by socioeconomic industry experts, claimed the impact of coronavirus on the airline industry would be short-term in terms of passenger numbers.

In such circumstances, LBA’s passenger numbers are set to reach seven million by 2032, not 2030 as initially planned.

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However, it said the overall jobs and economic benefits of the scheme would therefore not be affected, just slightly delayed.

Leeds Bradford Airport does not expect passenger numbers to recover until 2022.

The claims are made in a report to Leeds City Council on the impact of Covid-19, published in support of its replacement terminal planning application.

The airport wants to demolish its dilapidated terminal building and replace it with a brand new construction. Planning bosses are set to deliver their verdict in the autumn.

Despite up to a possible two-year delay in passenger demand, LBA remains committed to completing the development in 2023, with the demolition and construction time frame unaffected.

Hywel Rees, chief executive of Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “Despite the short-term financial implications of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, the findings within the report demonstrate how the development of a replacement terminal building at LBA will generate much needed jobs and economic growth for our region.

Hywel Rees

“It will allow us to improve public transport, reduce queuing times and improve the overall experience; providing better dining and shopping facilities, extend seating, and more efficient security and immigration areas.

"The development will create an economic boost to our region at a time when it is most needed, and create and sustain a range of highly skilled, permanent positions, as well as hundreds of construction jobs, from right across Leeds, Bradford and Yorkshire.

“Even at this early stage of lockdown restrictions being lifted, passenger demand for flights is very encouraging with some flights nearly full.

"This demonstrates that the appetite for travel has not gone away, it has just been temporarily put on hold. We remain focused on delivering the terminal building within the original timeframes and of reaching our ambition to make our operations net zero by 2023.

CGI of the new terminal

"We are committed to Yorkshires post-pandemic recovery and looking forward to delivering a terminal building fit for the future in line with passenger expectations.”

LBA received consent to expand its existing terminal in January 2019 and the airport’s current roadmap signposts a target of seven million passengers by 2030. If approved, it is still expected that work could begin before the end of 2020, with the terminal completed in 2023.

Group Action on Leeds Bradford Airport, a campaign group seeking to block approval of the new terminal building, dismissed the airport's statements.