Plans for a new terminal building for Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) will help match the economic advances of the Leeds City Region over the last decade, the airport’s chairman has claimed.
Andy Clarke said the facility will provide for vastly improved customer experiences and encourage travellers from the region to make more use of their local airport.
Mr Clarke was speaking after The Yorkshire Post exclusively revealed that LBA intends to build a new state-of-the-art terminal building at a cost of circa-£150m and demolish the old building.
The project is subject to consent from planning bosses and could be welcoming passengers from as early as 2023.
Mr Clarke, who joined the airport last year and is the former chief executive of Leeds-based supermarket Asda, told this newspaper that the revamp would “send a message” to the wider Northern area about the region’s ambitions.
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He said: “If you look at the commercial growth in Leeds and Bradford over the last 10 years, the growth of new business has been fantastic.
“We have got to make sure that we have got a facility that supports that business growth and I think this sends a clear message to outside of the Yorkshire region that Yorkshire is going to have an airport that gives fantastic service and experience for passengers that want to travel from closer to home.”
The planed new terminal would sit within the airport’s current boundaries and be situated closer to a proposed Parkway station that would allow passengers to travel to the airport by rail from Leeds City Centre.
Mr Clarke said that he hoped that the ambition shown by the airport’s management would “accelerate” the process of getting the station approved and added that the airport, along with a planned Enterprise Zone to constructed close to the airport would create a substantial commercial hub in the area.
LBA bosses had initially sought and been granted permission to extend the old 1960s terminal building.
However, following the appointment of Hywel Rees as chief executive last Spring, the decision was taken that a new approach was required in order to meet its aspiration of growing passenger numbers to seven million.
“We have been fortunate to find a CEO who knew how to take the whole airport forward,” said Mr Clarke.
“Extending an old asset was not necessarily the right thing to do.
“When I look back on my retail experience, where we found an old asset that needed changing, simply refitting it or extending was not always the right thing to do.
“We agreed that a complete rebuild was what was needed.
“This is a significant investment.”
When asked if he was hopeful of attracting fresh airlines and new routes to the airport off of the back of the new terminal, Mr Clarke said: “Carriers that come through or are based at Leeds Bradford, their passengers deserve the right to great service.
“They pride themselves on providing great service and we have to do the same as them.”
An application for the new building will be submitted to Leeds City Council in the Spring, with Mr Clarke saying he and his fellow bosses were hopeful of success.
“We already had permission to rebuild the existing facility,” he said.
“Any of the business leaders that I have spoken to has been really positive, I mean who would not vote for a smarter, brighter more environmentally friendly service that you can fly from?”