As centenary celebrations prepare to mark the first commercial airline flight, a Yorkshire airport has reported record-breaking passenger numbers.
Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has announced that 3.3m passengers flew through the airport in 2013 – an 11 per cent increase on the previous calendar year – cementing its status as one of the UK’s fastest growing airports.
Over the past 12 months LBA has served over 70 domestic and international destinations and introduced new airlines such as British Airways, Monarch and Thomson Airways.
Having added services to places such as Grenoble, Innsbruck, Split and Zante in 2013, the airport will add flights to Scandinavia next year.
Tony Hallwood, LBA’s aviation development and marketing director, said: “2013 has been a truly remarkable year for Leeds Bradford Airport as we expanded our services offering more domestic and international destinations than ever before.
“Our achievements were also recognised by the Airport Operators Association, who in November awarded Leeds Bradford the title of Best Airport under 6m passengers.”
The announcement comes as the very first fare-paying flight is re-enacted in Florida, USA, tomorrow.
A replica of the first airboat will take off from St Petersburg to fly the 23-minute journey to Tampa Bay, as the St Petersburg-Tampa Airboat line did on January 1 1914.
The re-enactment kicks off a year of celebrations supported by the International Air Transport Association (Iata).
As preparations continue, Willie Walsh, chief executive of British Airways’s parent company IAG, hailed the success of commercial aviation’s first 100 years.
He said: “Aviation is a miracle. It’s truly wonderful. Everybody who lives finds it somehow touches their lives.
“Without question, aviation is a force for good. There are issues we must address such as the environment where our performance must improve, but it’s a fantastic industry.”
On average, every day more than 8m people fly and in 2013 the total number of passengers flown was 3.1bn – surpassing the 3bn mark for the first time – according to Iata statistics released today.
That number is expected to grow to 3.3bn in 2014, which is equivalent to 44 per cent of the world’s population.