It’s official – the summer holiday season is in full swing.
And for airlines that means a boom in passenger numbers as people clock out of work and jet off on family vacations.
So all this week, the Yorkshire Evening Post is to offer readers a behind-the-scenes look at how Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) – the largest in the region – gets people up and away.
The series will reveal how air traffic control monitors the “motorways in the sky”, staff tips for a stress-free journey, and the latest developments in the rocky road to creating a transport system fit for purpose – besides much more.
With a new chief executive, a potential link road scheme and the prospect of Leeds becoming European Capital of Culture in 2023, it’s a busy time for the institution.
And while the airport is faced with many challenges, its day-to-day staff work tirelessly to try and keep customers happy.
Head of planning development Charles Johnson said: “The people who work at the airport are quite passionate about the airport and always have been.
“Not only are they passionate – they are very proud. There’s always that drive behind everything that goes on at the airport.
“It’s all about the passenger experience, the [point] from when they arrive to them landing back after their holiday.”
There are 16 airlines to more than 70 direct destinations and over 2,000 people work in LBA – and all that means more than 3.6m passengers a year.
Around 100,000 people fly from LBA every week during the peak season, with a 22 per cent increase in passengers since 2009. Chief executive David Laws, who has moved from Newcastle Airport, wants to increase the numbers flying out of Leeds by an extra million in the next three years.
However, inbound tourism is also rapidly growing, and LBA currently brings an estimated 230,000 visitors to the region.
The airport already contributes £336m to the local economy every year, it says, but a Strategic Development Plan maps its planned growth up until 2030.
Key to this strategy are a rail connection to the airport, an enlarged and improved terminal building and the potential creation of around 5,500 new jobs.
Interviews with those on the ground will appear in these pages over the next few days.
Included are Alan Siddoway, the head of air traffic services, who has overseen an expansion in the technology needed to run his department
Emily Bramley, passenger services manager, reveals how the airport deals with delays, cancellations, volcanic ash – and pet snails.
And commercial manager Richard Aldridge tells all about the site’s on going expansion plans.