Tony Hallwood: Our efforts to improve Leeds Bradford Airport are taking off

LEEDS Bradford Airport has successfully grown its passenger numbers over the last few years through introducing new airlines and services that serve the Leeds City Region '“ and wider Yorkshire region. We are confident of our continued success, while recognising the need to plan how the terminal infrastructure should be now developed to cope with this growing demand.

A plane lands at Leeds Bradford Airport.
A plane lands at Leeds Bradford Airport.

LBA, the busiest airport in the region, now offers passengers the widest ever choice of flights and holiday packages – with more than 75 direct destinations. The fact that a record 3.5 million passengers have been welcomed at LBA in the last 12 months shows there is a real appetite to travel through here, whether that is for leisure or for business, and we’re proud of this.

Our destination growth has also had a tremendously positive impact on the numbers of inbound tourist arriving in Yorkshire and the new routes announced by a number of our airline partners including Jet2 and Ryanair will deliver a further increase in visitors to our great city and region in 2017.

This confidence in the airport is fantastic to see and is great news overall – creating jobs and raising the profile of the wider region. In addition, worldwide connectivity through our prestigious hub airports of London Heathrow T5, Amsterdam, Dublin and Barcelona allows passengers to fly into the region from a wide range of overseas long haul destinations. 

This all said, we at LBA are not shying away from the fact that work needs to be done on the back of this success. We recognise that with this rise in passenger numbers comes the need to upgrade the customer experience. This is something we have started to address, with a number of terminal developments taking place over this winter.

On arrival at the airport today passengers will see work ongoing to provide an increase in terminal space, more seating and an upgrade to the toilets facilities. We will improve gate layouts so that passengers move to and from aircraft quicker, as well as install new flooring both landside and airside.

More light will be created in the terminal by installing new glass in the terminal frontage. Around £1m will be spent in this initial phase alone. The work that is now under way is expected to be completed by the start of the 2017 summer season and there will be minimal disruption while this takes place.

In addition, there will also be further terminal investment during 2017, taking into account of recent feedback from our valued customers and we expect to announce details of those improvements very soon.

Leeds Bradford Airport aims to continue to be a friendly, welcoming airport but one that will offer increased levels of customer service. We are currently working with external organisations to enhance the service given to passengers requiring special assistance.

Our on-time performance is exceptionally high and it’s rare for weather to seriously affect our operations. Looking further ahead, this upcoming work will pave the way for our ambitious Masterplan – which is due to be launched shortly. This will seek to improve surface access by rail and road, further increase terminal space for passengers and introduce an employment hub adjacent to the airport.

Our central location between Leeds and Bradford, two of the largest cities in the UK, allows us to act as an economic driver for the Leeds City Region and our Masterplan will see us prepare for the future; as well as give us the ability and space to create a more modern facility allowing to further expand our range of business and leisure destinations to and from Yorkshire.

Aside from our own plans, this month’s decision by the Government to support Heathrow Airport’s runway expansion greatly benefits our region too and we are pleased to see this announcement. We will continue to work with Heathrow Airport to gain the necessary cross-party support over the coming 12 months to see their plans delivered.

Expansion at Heathrow would allow LBA to deliver an increase in the number of passengers who could fly worldwide via Heathrow T5 through expansion of thrice daily British Airways service. Such expansion would also support businesses across the Leeds City Region in attracting new overseas investment from a range of key international markets.

Be assured that at Leeds Bradford Airport we are focused upon providing the very best facilities alongside delivering the widest possible range of routes and services. We recognise that there are challenges, but we will strive to deliver the very best customer service for our valued passengers.

If you have any comments or views on Leeds Bradford Airport we would welcome hearing from you – please contact us at

Tony Hallwood is aviation development director at Leeds Bradford Airport.