Business leaders, backed by Bradford Council leader David Green, have shot down the ‘fanciful’ idea that Leeds- Bradford International Airport should be relocated.
Bradford Breakthrough, which represents 32 senior private sector and public sector leaders, says it wants the airport to stay at Yeadon – and that investment should be made in better transport and infrastructure links.
Bradford Breakthrough members have unanimously opposed the idea of moving the airport following calls by the leaders of Leeds and Wakefield councils for a new regional hub to be developed on another site.
They said efforts should be redoubled to reach an early decision on building a rail link connecting Bradford and Leeds city centres with LBIA rather than contemplating a new airport elsewhere in West Yorkshire.
Bradford Breakthrough chief executive Colin Philpott (pictured) said: “The idea of moving the airport is a non-starter. Leeds-Bradford International Airport is a success story with passenger numbers now over 3.3 million a year and the airport continuing to invest in new facilities and in winning new routes.
“Effort should be put not into dreaming up a fanciful new airport on a greenfield site near the M1 but on developing what we already have and improving the links to the airport.”
The possibility of a new airport – probably located to the south of Leeds near the proposed HS2 route – was first mooted earlier this year.
Mr Philpott said Breakthrough wants a rail link to Leeds Bradford Airport – possibly a line linking Horsforth and Guiseley via the airport – which was likely to be a top priority for the new West Yorkshire Combined Authority and the West Yorkshire Transport Fund which came into force this week. Bradford Council leader Coun David Green said: “Leeds Bradford Airport is valuable to the local economy, tourism and visitor numbers and should continue to develop on its current site.
“The cost of developing a new airport would be prohibitive and instead the focus should be on improving links with the existing airport from Bradford and other cities.”
Tony Hallwood, Leeds-Bradford International Airport aviation development and marketing director, welcomed Breakthrough’s backing and said improving rail connectivity and road access were a priority for the airport. “No matter what happens with the HS2 project, we believe improved rail and road links to key regional cities is a priority,” he said.
The airport’s owners, Bridgepoint Capital, had invested significantly in its operations over the past seven years, including £11 million at the terminal buildings, and would invest more. “Leeds-Bradford can meet the long term need for air travel in Yorkshire and we can continue to grow at a fast pace,” he said.
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