Airport terminal hits turbulence

Leeds Bradford Airport’s expansion plans are due to go before Leeds City Council’s planning committee next week.

However despite objections being raised from all five Leeds Labour MPs, the chief planning officer has recommended approval.

The plans which relate to both a new airport terminal and  changes to the day time flight regime period, follow a previous discussion September 2020 when members of the committee raised a number of issues.

The application states the existing terminal is “inferior to other regional airports” and that the replacement will both “improve the airport’s environmental credentials” and help meed both “passenger and economic need”. It also supersedes a previous permission granted in 2019 by the council for the airport to expand its existing terminal.

However, MPs including Alex Sobel, Hilary Benn, Richard Burgon, Fabian Hamilton and Rachel Reeves have all objected to the proposals citing a range of issues.

Sobel stated that the climate emergency and current Covid-19 pandemic mean “We should put public health at the forefront of decision making ahead of perceived economic benefit.

While others highlighted that although the decision to replaced an existing outdated building with a more environmentally friendly one was correct, the increased passenger numbers would have a negative impact on the city hitting its net zero carbon target by 2030.

A number of the MPs have suggested that a decision should be deferred until it becomes clear how the current global pandemic has impacted the aviation sector.

Further objections were raised by various groups including Leeds Friends of the Earth and the Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA).

While Dutch airline KLM which currently operates worldwide connectivity from the airport via the Amsterday Hub highlighted that future success of the airport would create more jobs and boost the economy while its fleet of E195-E2s or ultra-efficient, quit and clean aircraft which it will start to receive during Q1 of this year will be the vehicle it operates from the airport.

The new proposed terminal which will be over three floors will be smaller than the existing site and featuring a gross area of 27,774 sq m compared to the existing 30,000 sq m site.

The application also includes amending flight times at the airport to bring it inline with other regional airports including Manchester, East Midlands and Newcastle. At present the airport can operate between 7am and 11pm, this application asks for this period to be extended to cover 6am to 11.30pm.

Leeds Bradford Airport states the current duration of the night time period (11pm-7am) gives it a “competitive disadvantage” and forces “leakage” of passengers to other airports, namely Manchester.

The discussion of the application on 11 February will come 10 days after Vincent Hodder took up the post of chief executive at the airport, becoming the fourth person to hold the role in the last four years.

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...