LEEDS council has pledged a major new package of support to help the city’s airport become the international travel capital of the North.
According to official Government figures, Leeds Bradford International Airport (LBIA) is set to more than double its passenger numbers in the next decade, and it could TRIPLE those numbers by 2050.
And as airport bosses push ahead with a major development masterplan, council leaders have launched a major drive to help maximise that potential.
The council’s cabinet will next week rubber-stamp a new policy push, which sets down in black and white four key priorities: growing the airport’s route network, better local and regional transport links, a clear land-use strategy, and job creation.
The aim is to cement a stronger partnership between the council and the airport, which recognises what a “huge asset” for Leeds it is.
LBIA is currently used by 3.3m passengers a year.
However figures show it is among the fastest growing airports in the country, growing by 16 per cent in the past five years. That’s TWICE the rate of Heathrow and FOUR times the rate of Gatwick.
Meanwhile biggest Northern rival Manchester has suffered a decline of almost two per cent in the same period, and other regional airports are languishing way behind.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has forecast that LBIA could be serving 7.3m by 2030 and more than nine million passengers per year by 2050.
A report to be debated by the council’s cabinet next week says it is time for a “clear and coherent” approach from the council.
“There is potential to expand the airport’s route network to open up new international connections, supporting international trade and creating new jobs. Better transport connections are needed to grow the airport’s catchment and to enable its growth. There are opportunities to develop sustainably the area around the airport to strengthen its role as an economic hub.
“However, this potential will not be realised without clear leadership and policies of the council.”
The council hopes that “through working together the two organisations can secure the sustainable and inclusive growth of the airport for the better of the wider region”.
Councillor Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive board member with responsibility for transport and the economy said: “The airport is a huge asset for Leeds and the wider city region, and has real potential for growth. “As a council we are keen to work with the airport to help facilitate plans for growth, and in turn ensure the benefits are realised widely across the region in regards to jobs and its input into our city’s economy.
“To ensure the airport is able grow to its true potential, the council need to adopt a clear and consistent approach in moving forward and helping to facilitate the expansion of the airport. The airport need to work in partnership with the Council and local communities to ensure the approach to growth is planned well, and that any potential negative impacts of growth are minimised.”
Tony Hallwood, aviation development director at LBIA, welcomed the council’s new pledge of support, pointing out the airport was “critically important” element in the city’s infrastructure.
He said working in closer partnership with the council would ensure the airport could ensure its future growth is “planned effectively”.
“We play a very active role in the economy for now and the future for the Leeds city region and for Yorkshire,” he said.
However he stressed that recent rumours of possible relocation for the airport, or any talk of plans for a second runway, were “not at all” in the equation.