THE ambitious £150m plan for a new terminal at Leeds Bradford Airport is, potentially, the most significant announcement in the post-war history of the site.
Why? Transformation of passenger facilities, the existing terminal opened in 1965, will be the catalyst for some of the major operators to begin longer-haul direct flights to prestige destinations.
And the investment by the airport’s owners AMP Capital, subject to planning permission, represents the fresh start that travellers have been demanding for years – the majority of anecdotal feedback to The Yorkshire Post, and others, has been far from complimentary about the passenger experience.
Fair play to LBA chief executive Hywel Rees for admitting: “It is about addressing the challenges we know our passengers face too frequently.”
Yet he also views these difficulties as a once-in-a-generation opportunity. If Leeds Bradford can develop world-class facilities, then the whole county, and region, will benefit from this global gateway which contributes £475m to the local economy and supports over 2,700 jobs.
But this also means LBA working with local authority partners to address the question of accessibility after controversial plans for a new link road were dropped.
And while the proposal to build the new terminal closer to the planned Parkway station on the Leeds to Harrogate railway line will go some way to assuaging those critics who are still sceptical, with reason, about the ability of council leaders to develop, and deliver, a coherent joined-up transport strategy, it speaks volumes that many people living in Leeds, and surrounding area, prefer to travel to Manchester than flying out of LBA.
As such, it will only be take-off for Leeds Bradford Airport if AMP Capital’s ambition and vision is reciprocated by local leaders.