executives at Leeds Bradford Airport have announced an £11m building programme to cope with increasing passenger numbers.
Plans for the terminal at Yeadon, near Leeds, include a bigger departure lounge, new shops and a covered walkway for passengers to reach aircraft.
Airport chief executive John Parkin admitted yesterday that passenger facilities were “unacceptable” and improvements were needed to cope with a hoped-for increase in passenger numbers from 2.95m to five million a year.
He said the building programme, to be completed by next summer, was an “important milestone” but the long-term aim is to attract more airlines, increase the frequency of flights and the range of destinations.
“We want to attract more airlines – to do that we have to have the capacity and the facilities. Last summer the passenger experience through our airport was unacceptable and it’s time to fix it.”
The airport operates direct services to over 70 destinations in 22 countries but the aim is to add at least another 30 destinations.
He said “big gaps” in the destinations being served, particularly Germany, needed to be filled. An airport spokesman said the £11m was part of a phased investment plan of £70m over 10 years, announced in 2008.
The £11m plan was welcomed but Councillor Dawn Collins, who represents Horsforth on Leeds City Council. She said: “The transport links to the airport are totally inadequate. If we’re going to see more people using the airport we need to see better road and rail links. The airport needs to consider what it can do to improve these links, while minimising the impact on local people, if it wants to increase passenger numbers.”
Guiseley councillor Paul Wadsworth added: “If the airport is serious about becoming one of the UK’s major airports, and attracting big international airlines, it needs to work with the council, and central government, to get better infrastructure.”