The airport is to construct a new £12m arrivals hall in order to allow larger aircraft to access the terminal and improve the visitor experience of passnegers upon arriving.
Its bosses say the investment in the three-storey building will be completed by the end of next year and lead to increased levels of inward investment into the Yorkshire region. The contractor for the development work is set to be announced in the next few days and will be required to commit to an apprenticeship programme using local people as part of the deal.
The expansion is part of a three-phase programme from boses to make the airport an international destination.
A recent report from the Department for Transport said it expected Leeds Bradford Airport to be the nation’s fastest growing airport and hit passenger numbers of seven million per year by 2030.
David Laws, chief executive of the airport, said the investment would create “an airport Yorkshire can be proud of” and that he needed a strong terminal to attract new airlines to the airport.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “Today’s announcement will let everyone know that the airport is serious about raising its game and ensuring that Yorkshire has an airport that people want to use for the right reasons.
“This is not an extension, it is a new building.
“At the minute the arrivals experience into the airport is not the best, but this development will change that. I think people will now really sit up and take notice.
“It gives a great impression of Yorkshire when people come into a state-of-the-art building. It tells people that we are really creating something that people can be proud of. It also sends a message to the airlines that we have the facilities and infrastructure to cater for 300-400 seater aircraft and take this airport to a whole new level.”
The new arrival terminal will create an entirely new immigration centre with the airport hoping to install e-gates, technology that scans a passenger’s face and passport rather than use human contact, speeding up the process.
The new terminal will also be based on one floor so as to make access easier for disabled people and young families and will feature a new and far faster baggage reclaim area and customs facility.
Mr Laws said that the next priority for the airport was the creation of a railway link to Leeds city centre.
“Successful airports lead to inward investment,” he said.
“Having a railway link 10 minutes away gives me an unbelievable pitch to the airlines. The priority is to get the train station, it allows us to ask how we get more routes out of Leeds Bradford Airport. With today’s announcement and the fact that we are going to build it in 12 months gives us a real boost.”
The final decision will rest with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and if approved could be up-and-running by 2023.
The plan was welcomed by local political leaders.
Councillor Susan Hinchliffe, chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority, said: “It is very important for our city region economy that we have a successful airport that is growing. I welcome the jobs and the new opportunities that it opens up in terms of market for business as well.”
Henri Murison, director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, said: “The connection between Yorkshire and the rest of Europe is very important for its economic future and this is a great opportunity for regional business.”