Leeds Bradford Airport terminal 'unlikely' to be complete by 2023 says Chairman Andy Clarke

Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) bosses said they would "work with whatever is thrown at us" to get their new terminal building over the line - but admitted a completion date of 2023 was now unlikely.

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Andy Clarke in 2019.

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, airport chairman Andy Clarke said they would "face that when we come to it".

He added: "We've got so many supporters who want this to happen - we'll work with whatever is thrown at us.

"What we want to build is something for the greater benefit of Leeds and West Yorkshire and the passengers that want to fly with us, so we'll tackle that as and when that gets pushed into our direction."

Mr Clarke said the approval process had been delayed by Covid and that the slated completion date of 2023 was now unlikely.

An artist's impression of the terminal.

He added: "Looking back 12 months ago, we were pre-Covid. I think it's unlikely we're going to hit that timeline. But of course, until we've got the full consent, we can't work through the detail of timescales and when we want to cut the ribbon on the front door."

The decision by councillors has been welcomed by business organisations and people in the region who want a more modern airport with a greater range of destinations.

The LBA chairman said his team had been in discussion with a number of airlines over the last year but that it was "too early for us to declare which additional routes and airlines".

He added: "But as you know as we're ready, then think we've got some exciting opportunities that will give broader routes for business travellers as well as for the holiday traffic."

An artist's impression of the terminal.

Mr Clarke reiterated the airport's statement that the new terminal would be the most environmentally-friendly in the UK, but climate scientists have warned the environmental damage caused by extra flights will dwarf any benefits gained from a more energy-efficient terminal building.

The 57-year-old said: "We live in a world economy - air travel is going to continue being a part of our lives.

"The airline industry itself is going through radical changes in terms of improving efficiency of engines emissions and so on.

"The car industry has gone through radical changes, but that doesn't stop people getting into cars.

"The airline industry is going through not a dissimilar amount of change.

"So, you know, will it be different in 30 years' time? Absolutely."

Pushed on the need for urgent change which scientists are calling for, Mr Clarke said: "We need to continue as others do, keep listening and working with those interested parties, and ensure that we are doing everything we can to match expectations as much as we can."

Mr Clarke, a former CEO at Asda, said he "firmly believed" meeting people in person would still be important in the world of business despite the changes brought on by the pandemic.

He said: "Goodness me I want to get out and see people. Human beings are social animals, we want to enjoy the experience of being face to face with people - shaking people's hands. It is just a natural human instinct."

Th chairman said some passengers would always go to a bigger airport like Manchester, but added: "Where there's opportunities for those passengers not to have to travel so far, flying from a modern airport terminal to the destinations that they choose, that's going to be a step change for the experience of those passengers and of course will improve the environmental challenges."

Charles Johnson, head of Planning Development at LBA, said local competition was not foremost on their minds.

He added: "What we're focusing on is the customer experience. And that's what the terminal is about to be perfectly honest. It's about providing the people of Yorkshire, and the people of the region with the world class terminal and in particular, and for people with restricted mobility - that's that's a key issue for us."

Mr Johnson said he and his team would now be working with planning officers to boil down what the conditions for full approval of the airport are.

He added: "We picked out what we thought the members position was - they had a few issues around the [parkway] train station. A few issues around taxis I think it was, a little bit on the timing for bringing in the new conditions and there was some work on landscaping as well."