Leeds Bradford to seek more long haul routes

Leeds Bradford International Airport has revealed ambitious plans to increase passenger numbers from 3 to 5 million in the next five years, as well as increase the number of destinations served from 75 to 100.

New routes are planned for business destinations in Germany, as well as to the new EU states. In the wake of Pakistan International Airlines introducing its twice weekly service from Leeds Bradford to Islamabad, an airport spokesperson has said that plans are afoot over the next five years to introduce more medium and long haul flights to America and the Middle East, in order to meet the passenger targets.

First it is hoped that a new route to an as yet unnamed west coast US city will facilitate links to North and South American destinations. A new route planned for Leeds Bradford to Dubai would enable the Emirates city to be used as a hub for onward flights to Australia, Japan and China.

The owners of the airport, Bridgepoint Capital, a private equity firm, bought the airport last year for £145.5 million. The airport had previously been in public ownership since 1930 when it was opened as Yeadon Aerodrome. Although Bridgepoint Capital owns the airport from a financial point of view, the five councils who previously owned it still have a say in the operation of the airport.

Bridgepoint Capital has promised to spend a further £70 million to boost the region’s business and tourism prospects. A £3 million project is about to get underway to improve the airport’s parking facilities and drop-off and pick-up points.


Airports suffering from strong Euro

We all know by now what’s going wrong with the pound in this country. It’s crunching by the day and by the time this is published we might be in the depths of a recession. The strength of the pound against the Euro resembles David and Goliath. This has resulted in a noticeable drop in the number of people going abroad on their holidays and also a noticeable number of people coming to the UK for their holidays to take advantage of the crazy exchange rate. What has this meant for the airports in the UK? It’s meant they’re overcrowded with incoming flights.

Jet2, which is a budget airline and flies into six UK airports, has seen an 8% percent rise in inbound traffic this year so far. It has meant that there is a shortage of hotel rooms and overcrowded tourist attractions but then UK based airlines are making quite a profit out of it.

The European airlines are in a much stronger position to offer new affordable deals for passengers. Their greatest asset is the fact that they are buying fuel in Euros but which is priced in dollars and so are getting a lot more for their money than anyone else in the world at the moment.

Across the Atlantic in the US, the dollar is in the doldrums too and so many Americans airlines are shelving their plans for new services and routes for the time being, whereas the European airlines such as Air France, Iberia and KLM are flying high with their business.


Sir Graham Hall steps down as airport chairman

It has been announced this week that, as expected, Sir Graham Hall has stepped down from his post as chairman of Leeds Bradford International Airport [LBIA]. The announcement has come amidst reports that Hall did not see eye to eye with Bridgepoint executives, the private equity firm that bought the airport in 2008.

Hall became chairman of the airport just last year after Bridgepoint bought it in a £145 million ownership deal from the five local authorities which make up West Yorkshire. Before taking up the position, he worked as chief executive for Yorkshire Electricity and was on the board as chairman of the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward.

Hall has not made an official comment as to the details of his relationship with airport executives, but it is believed that he encountered difficulties chairing a private equity business that he was not familiar with in his previous corporate positions. In Hall’s own words, he was not used to the "focused" style of management employed by private equity firms.

The new chairman for LBIA is Alan Lewis, who has been promoted to the role from his previous position as deputy chairman. Lewis is an advisory partner of Bridgepoint and has previously served on the board for Birmingham airport. Speaking about his predecessor, Lewis acknowledged that “Graham has played an important role during a key transitionary phase in the development of LBIA.” He went on to say that the management team and airport investors thank Hall for his contribution and are now looking forward to the airport’s future development.

Following his departure, Hall maintained that he is proud to have been able to contribute to the airport’s development and to putting a sound growth strategy in place for LBIA.


Leeds-Bradford scraps direct flights to Pakistan

It was announced that direct flights from Leeds Bradford to Islamabad were to be scrapped at the end of May due to an unexpected aircraft shortage. Introduced by Shaheen Air International, Pakistan’s second largest international carrier, the twice weekly non-stop service was launched from Leeds-Bradford in January this year with a 210 seater Airbus A310 carrying passengers between Yorkshire and Pakistan. With the launch of the new route, Shaheen chairman, Kahlid M Sehbai, said that he was confident there would be huge support for the new service, adding his hope that there would be more frequent flights from Leeds Bradford. After just four months, however, the airline admitted that it was unable to continue the popular service despite maintaining successful flights from Stansted, Heathrow, Birmingham and Manchester airports.

Tony Hallwood, commercial and aviation development director at Leeds Bradford Airport, confirmed his disappointment at the airline’s withdrawal of the service. As predicted there had been high demand for the route from Pakistanis living in the Yorkshire area and over a few short months the service had been a huge economic benefit to the airport. Airport operators are now on the look-out for another airline to offer direct flights to Pakistan and are hoping to launch a new service in the near future.


Leeds Bradford gets eco recognition

For those in the north-east wishing to salve their consciences with regards to flying off on their summer holidays, news that Leeds Bradford airport has recently been granted an eco certification may make them feel better.

The ISO 14001 is internationally recognised as the gold standard for environmental management and was awarded following a recent audit of the airport.

Measures taken by Leeds Bradford to ensure that environmental responsibility is top of the agenda include:

  • Noise Awareness – Noise Preferential Routes mean that departing flights travel over the less populated areas of the city. Furthermore, Target Noise Levels are set, especially for night-time flights, and the Quota Count ensures that only the quietest of planes are allowed to operate at night.
  • Emissions and Discharges – the nitrogen dioxide levels are monitored at six points around the perimeter of the airport
  • Access and Transport – a number of public transport initiatives has meant that passengers are able to leave their cars at home when flying out of Leeds Bradford
  • Waste Management – several recycling initiatives aimed at passengers and airport employees have led to an increase in recycling, with a target rate of 20% by 2010
  • Energy Management – low-energy light bulbs and incentives for on-site businesses are saving money as well as improving the state of the environment
  • Water Management – automatic flow controls in toilets and sinks, combined with speedy detection of leaks, keeps water wastage to a minimum

An airport spokesman has expressed his delight at receiving the award which demonstrates the airport’s hard work and commitment to making Leeds Bradford an environmentally sound departure point for their customers.


Airport rail link proposed for Leeds-Bradford Airport

A recent report has proposed that a rail link could feasibly be introduced to Leeds-Bradford Airport to connect the airport with key locations across West Yorkshire. The report estimates that, if the plans are approved, the project will cost between £17 and £25 million, introducing the airport to five different routes across the Leeds and Bradford region.

It has been suggested that the state-of-the art rail link would use tram-trains to transport passengers to and from the airport as quickly as possible with the line spanning the following routes:

  • Leeds – Harrogate – York
  • Horsforth – Leeds – Bradford Airport – Guisely
  • Bradford Forster Square – Guisely
  • Leeds – Lower Aire Valley – Five Towns – Wakefield

The proposed links would make travelling to the airport considerably easier for a large number of airport passengers and make using the airport a lot more attractive for people living in West Yorkshire.

The proposals are being managed by international business consultants Arup, who have written the report detailing the potential route of the line, along with estimated project costs. The report was presented to the Metro’s Rail Working Group on May 15 and highlighted the link between the airport and the Harrogate line which would provide a direct connection with Leeds City Centre. The report also said that, if tram-trains were used to link the airport to the Bradford Forster Square – Guisely route, extra costs would be used for the necessary doubling of the single track between Shipley and Estholt East.


Passenger numbers at all time high

June saw more than a quarter of a million passengers pass through the airport’s gates for the first time ever.

The passenger numbers for June showed a massive 16% increase over numbers during the same month last year. The increase in numbers is due to more airlines, and more destinations serving the ever-growing airport.

The airport is currently on target to achieve 2.7 million passengers this year.


Leeds-Bradford welcomes new facilities

Leeds-Bradford saw the opening of a new Superdrug store, along with a refurbished lounge bar.The new Superdrug store is the first airport-based branch of this popular high street company, and is part of a plan to open a number of Superdrug stores in airports.


Thomas Cook to set up at Leeds-Bradford Airport

Thomas Cook Airlines has based a new aircraft at Leeds Bradford Airport, with the specific aim of serving summer holidaymakers from around the Yorkshire region. Thomas Cook has taken the decision due to high demand from customers, believing that it will prove economically beneficial to increase its services at the popular regional airport. In response to the decision, Tony Hallwood, Leeds Bradford’s Commercial and Aviation Development Director, said that the airport had recognised the need for passengers to be able to fly from their local airport rather than having to travel to Manchester or London. He added that he is ‘delighted’ that Thomas Cook has also seen that need and increased the choice of holiday destinations for Yorkshire travellers.

The airline’s new craft is an 180-seater Airbus A320, which this month began serving seventeen popular holiday destinations around the world including Turkey, Malta, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece and the Canary Islands. The flights will increase the number of services flying from the airport during the summer season by seventeen percent, which it is hoped will bring significant economic benefits to the surrounding area.

The new flights follow the full incorporation of ‘My Travel Airways’ into Thomas Cook airlines, which took place at the end of March, enabling it to add forty two new Airbus and Boeing aircrafts to its national summer schedule. As well as Leeds Bradford, Thomas Cook has a strong presence at other regional airports such as Bristol and East Midlands and also operates from a number of the UK’s largest airports including London Stansted, Birmingham and Belfast International.