Report reaffirms economic viability for replacement airport terminal

Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has presented a detailed report to Leeds City Council on the impact of COVID-19 in support of its replacement terminal planning application.

The report concludes the pandemic does not significantly affect the future socio-economic benefits of the scheme.

The assessment, put together by industry experts, demonstrates that while COVID-19 has resulted in a short-term downturn in passenger numbers, 2019 levels are expected to return by 2022.

In such circumstances, LBA’s passenger numbers are set to reach 7m by 2032, not 2030.

However, the report says that as shown by the airport’s resilience to previous economic shocks, such as the 2008 recession, a date closer to 2030 is not unrealistic.

It notes that the overall jobs and economic benefits of the scheme would therefore only be slightly delayed.

The report was produced in response to public consultation around the viability of LBA’s scheme as a result of the global pandemic during Leeds City Council’s consultation period.

LBA’s plans for a replacement terminal, submitted to Leeds City Council in May, proposes the construction of a modern, three floor, 34,000 sq m building on an alternative site within the airport’s boundary.

If approved, the new building would deliver a passenger experience beyond what is achievable in the existing terminal.

The current building was constructed in 1965 and has a legacy of several piecemeal extensions over the course of its 55-year history.

Hywel Rees, chief executive of Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “Despite the short-term financial implications of COVID-19 on the aviation industry, the findings within the report demonstrate how the development of a replacement terminal building at LBA will generate much needed jobs and economic growth for our region.

“It will allow us to improve public transport, reduce queuing times and improve the overall experience; providing better dining and shopping facilities, extend seating, and more efficient security and immigration areas.

“The development will create an economic boost to our region at a time when it is most needed, and create and sustain a range of highly skilled, permanent positions, as well as hundreds of construction jobs, from right across Leeds, Bradford and Yorkshire.

“Even at this early stage of lockdown restrictions being lifted, passenger demand for flights is very encouraging with some flights nearly full.

“This demonstrates that the appetite for travel has not gone away, it has just been temporarily put on hold.

“We remain focused on delivering the terminal building within the original time frames and of reaching our ambition to make our operations net zero by 2023.

“We are committed to Yorkshires post-pandemic recovery and looking forward to delivering a terminal building fit for the future in line with passenger expectations.”

LBA received consent to expand its existing terminal in January 2019 and the airport’s current roadmap signposts a target of seven million passengers by 2030.

A decision from the council on LBA’s latest proposal for a replacement terminal is expected in the autumn and, if approved, it is still expected work could begin before the end of 2020, with the terminal completed in 2023.