A personal visit to Leeds-Bradford International Airport by the recently-appointed Aviation Minister has raised hopes that plans for better access roads and a rail link that would provide direct access from the city centre may be gaining ground.
Robert Goodwill spent time touring the airport as part of his work to report on ‘surface connectivity’ issues, or how passengers get to and from the increasingly busy airport.
Although he was vague on timescales for possible developments, Mr Goodwill said: “The fact that I am here shows that I recognise the issue of connectivity.
“It will depend on the price tag, deliverability and talking to rail operators would have to be a part.
“Business, council leaders and MPs make it clear they see this as a priority and if it was not something I was taking seriously, I would not be within 50 miles of the airport.”
Mr Goodwill travelled to and from the airport by bus in an attempt to make sure he understood the experiences of normal passengers and he recognised the advances made by the airport in recent years, praising its improved facilities as passenger numbers have risen.
He used it regularly for flights to Brussels while serving as a Euro MP some years ago and said it was now unrecognisable inside from that era.
“It has turned the travelling experience into something which is almost pleasurable,” he joked.
Mr Goodwill stressed the Government recognised the need to spend on improvements and said: “We have a Government which understands the importance of investment in infrastructure and I understand the importance of regional airports.” Leeds-Bradford International Airport CEO John Parkin said the airport’s ambitions were to get a new access road which would reduce local traffic, though studies showed much of the traffic volume in the area was not connected with airport activity.
Also there was hope that a ‘train tram’ project could proceed, which would provide a link direct from Bradford with the airport among the stations along a line running into Leeds.
“It was very good to see the Minister here,” he said.
“I think it is really good news. It is one thing talking about something like this but it is another thing doing it.
“It is essential to have the engagement and will of Government to listen to what the region has been saying about the growth of the airport,” he said. Mr Goodwill will publish a report later on the future prospects for road and rail links to the airport.