Leeds Bradford Airport boss Hywel Rees - 'I'll have failed if new terminal is not built'

THE boss of Leeds Bradford Airport has said that he will have “failed” if he is unable to get a new terminal building for the hub developed and operational.

Hywel Rees, who took over as chief executive of the airport in May of last year, said that a new terminal building was essential if the airport is to realise its ambitions of growing passenger numbers from its current four million to seven million by the end of the decade.

His plan for the 34,000 sq m building will go before planners at Leeds City Council in the coming weeks as well as be put before the public in a series of consultations.

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How the terminal is envisaged to appear.

However the boss remains confident that it will come to fruition.

“There is a lot to do between now and then,” he said.

“I am under no illusions on that.

“But I didn’t come here to fail. If I go away from here with the airport still operating from this building then I will have failed.

Hywel Rees, LBA boss.

“There have been so many false starts with this airport.”

Mr Rees, who has worked in infrastructure for 30 years and has served on the boards of Melbourne Airport, Newcastle Airport and London Luton Airport, told The Yorkshire Post that the previous plan to expand the current terminal would not meet the fundamental challenges it faces.

“The old plan would have helped in certain respects but it would not have been the transformative game changer that Leeds Bradford needs,” he said.

“The terminal building was designed in 1965 and built in 1968. And in the intervening 50 years or so it has been built upon, expanded upon and really stretched to the limit of what it can sensibly cope with.

Where the new terminal will be located. Graphic by Graeme Bandeira

“It is very old and it has reached the end of its natural life. If you look at my mailbox in terms of the complaints we get, the great majority are related to the airport infrastructure.

“We can do a lot better.”

Mr Rees said that the new terminal would be built on the edge of the current building and be closer to the runway, getting rid of the need for lengthy bus journeys between planes and the arrival and departure lounge.

“It all comes down to operational efficiency,” he said.

Planes at LBA

“It is something that really upsets people. I arrived on time but then had to wait for a bus. That is because the terminal is in the wrong place.

“If customers do not want to use it because they get delayed on arrival because they have to get the bus [to the terminal], or if airlines do not want to use it because they can only arrive at a certain time of day, then that’s a problem.”

No public money is expected to be spent on the project, with the funding having been approved by AMP Capital, the infrastructure giant who own LBA.

“This is serious stuff,” said Mr Rees.

“If you look at the kind of airports that AMP operate you will see that they are some of the best. AMP did not buy this airport to sit on it.”

KLM plane lands at LBA.