Leeds Bradford Airport lands new chief executive for turbulent times

Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has appointed of Vincent Hodder as its chief executive officer, the fourth person to hold the role in the last four years.

Hodder, most recently CEO of IAG’s low-cost brand, LEVEL, will take over the position on 1 February from Hywel Rees who took up the position in May 2019 upon the retirement of David Laws who held the role for two years following John Parkin.

Outgoing chief executive of Leeds Bradford Airport, Hywel Rees

The change to leadership comes as the airport is in the midst of a metamorphosis, having been acquired by AMP Capital in 2017. In the last 12 months it has submitted plans to build a new airport terminal, and worked with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to improve its links to Leeds city centre through the creation of a new rail station and bus interchange.

However the regional airport  has not escaped the fall out from the ongoing pandemic, with BA cancelling its regular flight to London and the announcement in October that at least 100 jobs were facing redundancy at LBA.

Hodder’s focus will be on developing passenger experience as well as the short term recovery from the pandemic  – which has created serious turbulence for the aviation industry, resulting in the collapse of a number airlines.

He will also continue the longer-term transformation of the airport which Rees has been leading, including the terminal replacement planning application.

With more than 20 years in the industry, his experience spans organisations including Flybe, Jetstar Airways and VivaAerobus.

As a consultant and an operator, he has worked across Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and Australasia and across all different models of airline from regional and low cost to long haul and network operations.

Hodder said: “I’m looking forward to leading the business as we face the short-term challenges of Covid and towards a sustainable long-term future, working collaboratively with businesses and stakeholders across the region, while continuing to progress the terminal replacement scheme through planning.”

Andy Clarke, chairman of Leeds Bradford Airport, said: “As we look ahead to a post-Covid world, we remain fundamentally committed to improving customer experience, continuing to develop the airport to deliver a wider economic impact in the region and ensuring a sustainable future for LBA.

“”I know Vincent shares my aspirations for the future of LBA and I’m excited to see how he will shape this. His experience at low-cost players and network players, across business and leisure travel, brings a varied perspective as we seek to develop new relationships with airlines that share our vision for a responsible and efficient future, ensuring that we are ready for the return of demand in travel when the time is right.

Commenting on Rees Clarke added: “Hywel has been instrumental in developing the longer-term vision for LBA and has helped the airport to navigate through a challenging year for the aviation sector.”

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

If approved, the development will protect and create new, high-skilled jobs, supporting 12,650 permanent positions, and increase the airport’s contribution to the region’s economy from £377m (2019) to £869m.