new aviation Minister Robert Goodwill has admitted a new rail link to Leeds Bradford airport is “obviously desirable”.
Mr Goodwill was at the airport yesterday for a whistle-stop tour of the facility, as part of a day of discussions with council and business leaders.
Top of the agenda was improved road and rail links to the airport.
The Minister is visiting regional airports across the country in the wake of a new Government study, which has identified the six national congestion hotspots most in need of investment.
“Coming from Yorkshire as I do, I understand the importance of regional airports, or local international airports as I think they should really be called,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“A rail connection into the airport is obviously desirable. I am the MP for Scarborough and many of my constituents see it as [more] convenient to use Manchester airport, despite the fact it’s twice as far away, because they can get on the train at Scarborough and get off it in Manchester.
“And therefore I can understand why John (Parkin, the airport’s chief executive) is so keen to get a rail connection here, so that people an get on the train, change at Leeds or Harrogate and come into Leeds Bradford by train.”
He praised the airport’s “phenomenal” facilities and its increasing capacity.
But quizzed on if and when the Government would be ready to invest in the region’s airport, he said he was “rather reluctant to put a timescale on that decision”.
“We have to look at other airports and priorities as well,” he said. “But I have recognised the issue of surface connectivity at Leeds Bradford. There is a study ongoing and it will depend on the price tag, the deliverability and planning issues.
“But business leaders, council leaders and local MPs make it very clear to me that they see this as a priority we need to look at. I have come here today.
“If it wasn’t something we are taking seriously, I would not have.”
John Parkin, chief executive of the airport, said connection issues had been driving the regional debate on transport planning for a while.
He said the fact the Minister was visiting the region and speaking to stakeholders on the issue “tells you much”.
“Whilst no one can say what the outcome of major piece of national work will be, we are getting attention, and that’s important,” he said.