Leeds Bradford Airport
Leeds Bradford Airport
|Operator||Leeds Bradford Airport Limited|
|Location||Yeadon, England, UK|
|Opened||17 October 1931|
|Elevation AMSL||681 ft / 208 m|
Leeds Bradford Airport (IATA: LBA, ICAO: EGNM) is located in Yeadon, in the City of Leeds Metropolitan District in West Yorkshire, England, about 7 miles (11 km) northwest of Leeds city centre, and about 9 miles (14 km) northeast from Bradford city centre. It serves Leeds and Bradford and the wider Yorkshire region including York, Wakefield and Harrogate, and is the largest airport in Yorkshire. The airport was in public ownership until May 2007, when it was bought by Bridgepoint Capital for £145.5 million. Bridgepoint sold it in 2017 to AMP Capital.
Leeds Bradford opened on 17 October 1931 when it was known as Leeds and Bradford Municipal Aerodrome or Yeadon Aerodrome; locals still refer to it as Yeadon Airport. Largely used for general aviation and training purposes early on, the first scheduled flights commenced on 8 April 1935. To accommodate passenger traffic, work commenced on the first terminal in the late 1930s, although only the first wing was completed before the Second World War. British aircraft manufacturer Avro constructed a shadow factory to the north of the aerodrome in the largest free-standing structure in Europe at that time. Avro produced around 5,515 aircraft before it closed in December 1946 and civil flights recommenced the following year.
In 1965, a new runway opened. After Yeadon's terminal was destroyed in a fire, a replacement was completed in 1968. In the early 1980s, runway extensions were completed that enabled it to be classified as a regional airport. On 4 November 1984, the day a runway extension was opened, Wardair commenced transatlantic flights to Toronto, using Boeing 747s. On 2 August 1986, an Air France Concorde charter flight from Paris landed for the first time, drawing an estimated crowd of 70,000 people. More Concorde charter flights took place until 2000. In 1994, the airport's operational hour restrictions were removed, enabling flights at any time of day. Since 1996, the terminal has been expanded in the terms of size and facilities. In 2007, nearly 2.9 million passengers passed through the airport, an 88% increase in seven years and more than twice as many compared with 1997 (1.2 million).
Leeds Bradford has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P800) that allows flights for passenger transport and flight training. The airport operates to many domestic and European destinations. It is the highest airport in England at an elevation of 681 ft (208 m). By the number of passengers handled in 2018, Leeds Bradford was the 15th busiest airport in the UK. It is a base for Jet2.com.
Opening and early operations
What became Leeds Bradford Airport was built in the late 1920s and early 1930s on 60 acres of grassland next to the old Bradford to Harrogate road. On 17 October 1931, the airport, which was interchangeably known as Leeds and Bradford Municipal Aerodrome or Yeadon Aerodrome in its early years, was officially opened. Initially, the airport was operated by the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club on behalf of Leeds and Bradford Corporations. Its early operations were typified by training and general aviation flights.
In 1935, the aerodrome was expanded by 35 acres (140,000 m2); the first scheduled flights commenced on 8 April 1935 with a service by North Eastern Airways from London (Heston Aerodrome) to Newcastle upon Tyne (Cramlington). The service was extended to Edinburgh (Turnhouse). In June 1935, Blackpool and West Coast Air Services launched a service to the Isle of Man. By 1936, the London/Yeadon/Newcastle/Edinburgh service was flying three times a week and also stopped at Doncaster and continued to Aberdeen (Dyce).
Seasonal flights between Yeadon and Liverpool commenced during the 1930s. To accommodate the expanding passenger numbers, work commenced on a terminal building but progress was halted after a single wing had been completed. During this time, the German zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg overflew the aerodrome and while the flight was claimed to be for publicity purposes, it was later found to have been engaged in espionage.
At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, all civil aviation operations were halted. The aircraft manufacturer Avro constructed a shadow factory to the north of the aerodrome to manufacture military aircraft. The factory was connected to the aerodrome by a taxiway from where the aircraft made their way to make their maiden flights. The Avro factory was camouflaged, its roof disguised as a field with dummy cattle and agricultural buildings so that from the air it resembled the surrounding fields. Large numbers of houses were constructed nearby to house the workforce. The factory, which commenced production in 1941, was reportedly the largest free-standing structure in Europe at the time.
To better accommodate the large military aircraft, improvements were made to the aerodrome including two runways, more taxiways and extra hangarage enabling Yeadon to become an important site for military test flying. About 5,515 aircraft were produced at Yeadon of the following main types: Anson (more than 4,500), Bristol Blenheim (250), Lancaster bomber (695), York (45) and the Lincoln (25). Decreased demand at the end of the conflict saw the factory closed in December 1946. On New Year's Day 1947, the site was handed over to the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Many of the airport's original hangars remain intact.
1947 to 1969
In 1947, civil flights recommenced. Local resident Geoff Rennard who had campaigned for Leeds and Bradford to have an aerodrome established an Aero Club. He was subsequently appointed airport manager, remaining for five years. In 1953, Yeadon Aviation Ltd was formed to manage and operate the airport and its Aero Club. In 1955, services to Belfast, Jersey, Ostend, Southend, the Isle of Wight and Düsseldorf were added to Yeadon's destination list. Scheduled flights to London commenced in 1960; a route to Dublin by Aer Lingus was added shortly after. In 1965, a new runway was opened and in the same year the terminal building was accidentally destroyed in a fire. Its replacement was started shortly after and was operational by 1968.
1970 to 1994
By the mid 1970s, the package holiday had become popular in the British Isles. During 1976, the first holiday charter flight to the Iberian Peninsula by Britannia Airways departed Leeds Bradford.
In 1978, it was recognised that, if the runway was extended, the airport could be upgraded to regional airport status. In 1982, construction commenced on the main runway necessitating the construction of a tunnel to take the A658 Bradford to Harrogate road beneath the runway. On 4 November 1984, the runway was completed. Around this time, the airport's terminal building was extended and redeveloped. The first phase opened on 18 July 1985.
On 4 November 1984, the day the runway extension was officially opened, Wardair commenced transatlantic flights to Toronto, using Boeing 747s but these flights were discontinued in 1989 when Wardair ceased operations. Worldways Canada, Odyssey International, Air Transat, Nationair and Caledonian all operated transatlantic services from the airport well into the 1990s using Lockheed Tristar and Boeing 757–200 airliners.
On 2 August 1986, an Air France Concorde charter flight from Paris landed at the airport for the first time; an estimated 70,000 people were drawn to the airport to catch a glimpse of the supersonic airliner. Occasional Concorde charter flights using British Airways aircraft continued until June 2000, just one month before the Concorde disaster in Paris.
Leeds Bradford Airport had restricted operating hours that proved to be a deterrent to many charter airlines, whose cheap fares were heavily dependent on 'round-the-clock' use of their aircraft. In 1994, the restrictions were removed, enabling planes to use the airport 24 hours per day, attracting more business.
1995 to date
Work on the airport terminal has been ongoing since 1996, and the result of this has been significant growth in terminal size and passenger facilities. The expanded terminal, along with new hangars, has accommodated the expanding use of airliners such as the Boeing 737.
In 2007, nearly 2.9 million passengers passed through the airport, an 88% increase in just seven years and more than twice as many compared with 1997 (1.2 million). Much of the growth in passenger numbers since 2003 has been due to the introduction of scheduled flights by the based low-cost airline Jet2.com.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the construction of a temporary extension to the terminal front, titled the 'Preparation Zone', acting as a space to queue, maintain Social distancing measures, and to ensure all passengers were wearing face masks as per the UK Government's COVID-19 strategy. The existing 'Yorkshire Lounge' was converted into a takeaway food outlet called 'Flight Bites', and all travel money kiosks, other shops / food outlets and the 'Fast Track' security lane were closed. On 15 July 2020, a new, refurbished Yorkshire Lounge opened; closing the Flight Bites temporary outlet. On the same day, Starbucks and Boots outlets reopened; coinciding with the relaunch of Jet2.com flights.
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The airport has a terminal and two air bridges. It has 24 aircraft stands capable of handling up to Boeing 757 aircraft. The terminal has two check-in halls: Hall A is used by all airlines except Jet2 and Hall B is solely used by Jet2. Upstairs is a retail space with shops, restaurants, bars and a duty-free shopping area operated by World Duty Free. Food options include Greggs, Starbucks and Burger King. There are three lounges in the departures lounge. Long, medium and short-stay car parks provide 7,000 parking spaces at the airport, along with several drop off points.
The airport processes a small amount of freight from its two cargo sheds on site with a view to expanding this operation, a key focus of the business and masterplan objectives. The airport features a small runway of 2200 m (7200 ft) oriented as 14 and 32. Until recently, there was a second smaller runway oriented 9 and 27, however it was closed in 2005 and converted into a taxiway.
Leeds Bradford Airport published a masterplan in March 2017. Planning permission was granted in January 2019 to redevelop the terminal to create additional departure gate access, extended seating areas, improved baggage reclaim facilities and enlarged immigration and customs facilities. Since then, the new airport owners have stated that updating the old 1965 original terminal would neither improve facilities sufficiently nor be able to offer a carbon neutral facility for the future. Environmental groups such as Extinction Rebellion have objected to the development. Consequently, a new planning application for a brand new £150 million terminal with an anticipated completion date of 2023 was submitted in spring 2020. The airport was granted permission for the new terminal in February 2021, as well as for its annual passenger numbers to increase from four million to seven million.
Leeds City Council and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) consulted in 2019 on the delivery of a new link road and parkway rail station which could provide a 10-minute connection to Leeds railway station. The link road was dropped, with plans for Leeds Bradford Airport Parkway railway station taken for further development.
|Royal Air Force Station Yeadon|
|Controlled by||Royal Air Force|
|In use||1936–1939, 1946–1957|
|Garrison||RAF Fighter Command|
609 (West Riding) Squadron was based at Yeadon from its formation on 10 February 1936, until 27 August 1939 when it was relocated to Catterick. In 1946, 609 Squadron was reformed and returned to Yeadon the following year. The squadron was equipped with de Havilland Mosquito MK.XXX aircraft which were difficult to operate because the runways were too short. Safety speed (at which the aircraft needs to be flown and controlled on a single engine) was not reached until over flying central Leeds when taking off in that direction—with drastic results should things go wrong. The airfield sloped downhill and it was necessary to land at RAF Linton-on-Ouse (20 miles away) if the wind was coming from the wrong direction. Eventually, the Air Ministry re-equipped 609 with Spitfire LFXVIs. This was sufficient as a short-term measure, but the grass airstrip was not ideally suited to Spitfire operations, and it was decided that 609 Squadron should move to the hard runways of RAF Church Fenton in October 1950.
Yeadon was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force and became part of 13 Group and subsequently 12 Group. Once 609 (West Riding) Squadron left for Catterick, Yeadon served as a Flying Training School, bomber maintenance unit, and a scatter airfield. In January 1942, it was transferred to the Ministry of Aircraft Production and Avro built a shadow factory for the production of Albermarles, Ansons, Lancasters, Yorks, and Lincolns. It was also used by Hawker Aircraft for development work on its Tornado design. The Royal Air Force remained a part of Yeadons life until 1957, operating Austers, Supermarine Spitfires, De Havilland Mosquitoes out of here. RAF Yeadon finally closed in 1959.
- No. 609 (West Riding) Squadron RAF 1936–1939, 1946–1950
- No. 23 Gliding School RAF 1946-1950
- Leeds University Air Squadron 1955-1960
- No. 1970 Flight RAF 1952-1957
Aircraft that were based at Yeadon:
- Hawker Hart 1936–1938
- Hawker Hind 1938–1939
- Supermarine Spitfire 1946
- De Havilland Mosquito 1946–1948
- Slingsby Cadet TX.1 1946–1950
- Slingsby Grunau Baby 1947–1950
- de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk 1955–1960
- Auster 1952–1957
Leeds and Bradford councils jointly bought the airport site in 1930 and it opened as Yeadon Aerodrome in 1931. The airport became a limited company in 1987, and was shared between the five boroughs, Leeds (40%), Bradford (40%) and Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees (sharing the remaining 20%).
In October 2006, plans to privatise the airport were confirmed and on 4 April 2007 the five controlling councils announced that Bridgepoint Capital had been selected as the preferred bidder. On 4 May 2007, Bridgepoint Capital acquired the airport from Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees councils for £145.5 million. Although Bridgepoint Capital owned the airport 100% financially, the councils hold a "special share" in the airport, to protect its name and continued operation as an air transport gateway for the Yorkshire region. In November 2017, Bridgepoint Capital sold the airport to AMP Capital who own several other airports around the world. AMP plans to expand the airport, improve the customer experience and secure more business flights.
Airlines and destinations
The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Leeds Bradford;
Passengers and movements
|Leeds Bradford Airport Passenger Totals|
|Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority|
2017 / 18
|2||Dublin||289,963||2.6%||Aer Lingus Regional, Ryanair|
|4||Palma de Mallorca||253,567||4.3%||Jet2, Ryanair, TUI Airways|
|5||Amsterdam||252,180||4.3%||Jet2, KLM Cityhopper|
|8||Belfast–City||165,858||1.0%||Aer Lingus Regional|
|12||Gran Canaria||93,472||1.7%||Jet2, Ryanair|
Bus services to the airport include the 757 route to Leeds operated by Yorkshire Tiger every 20 minutes. Routes 737 and 747 operated by Yorkshire Tiger run to Bradford Interchange, and the 747 route extends to Harrogate. Keighley Bus Company operates route 62 to Otley, Menston railway station, Ilkley and Keighley.
Routes to Leeds, Bradford, and Harrogate will be operated by Transdev Blazefield from August 2020. They will be branded as 'Flyer', and will begin operations on 30 August, operating day and night.
Bus services to the cities of Leeds and Bradford link the airport with the National Rail network via Leeds railway station, Bradford Interchange and Bradford Forster Square and connects with long-distance coach services at Leeds City bus station and Bradford Interchange.
Flight training and general aviation
Since 1994, the airport has been home to Multiflight, a flight training and aircraft engineering organisation. They are also the dedicated FBO at the airfield and provide helicopter and fixed wing charter flights as well as aircraft sales and management. General aviation operations are confined to the south-side of the airport, in order to maintain separation from commercial traffic utilising the main terminal.
During 2005, a pair of new hangars capable of housing up to four Boeing 737-800s were constructed, as well as a new apron and direct taxiway to the runway. A dedicated southside fuel farm was also installed.
The Aviation Academy is located within a hangar at Leeds Bradford Airport. It is operated by Craven College in conjunction with the Open University. The academy trains and prepares students to work within the commercial aviation industry.
Incidents and accidents
- On 27 May 1985, a Lockheed Tristar operated by British Airtours, registration G-BBAI, overran the runway surface on landing from Palma after a rain shower. The aircraft was evacuated, with only minor injuries sustained by the 14 crew and 398 passengers. The nose landing gear strut folded backwards during the overrun, leading to severe damage to the underside of the forward fuselage. The undersides of both wing-mounted engines were flattened and both engines suffered ingestion damage. The main wheels of the aircraft also dug deep troughs in the area beyond the end of the runway, damaging the buried airfield lighting cables. The accident report concluded that the overrun was caused by the inability of the aircraft to achieve the appropriate level of braking effectiveness and recommended that both the scheduled wet runway performance of the TriStar and the condition of the surface of runway 14 at Leeds Bradford Airport should be re-examined.
- On 24 May 1995, an Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante aircraft, registration G-OEAA operated by Knight Air on a flight between Leeds Bradford and Aberdeen (see Knight Air Flight 816) entered a steeply descending spiral dive, broke up in flight and crashed into farmland at Dunkeswick Moor near Leeds. All 12 occupants were killed. The probable cause of the accident was the failure of one or both artificial horizon instruments. There was no standby artificial horizon installed (as there was no airworthiness requirement for one on this aircraft) and the accident report concluded that this left the crew without a single instrument available for assured attitude reference or simple means of determining which flight instruments had failed. The aircraft entered a spiral dive from which the pilot, who was likely to have become spatially disoriented, was unable to recover.
- On 18 May 2005, a Jordanian Airbus A320, registration JY-JAR operating for Spanish charter airline LTE suffered a braking malfunction on landing at Leeds Bradford Airport following a flight from Fuerteventura. The aircraft touched down on runway 14 just beyond the touchdown zone, approximately 400 m (1,300 ft) beyond the aiming point. The pilots determined that the rate of deceleration was inadequate and applied full reverse thrust and full manual braking in an effort to stop the aircraft, however the normal braking system malfunctioned and the Captain turned the aircraft onto a level grassed area to the right of the runway where it came to rest. There were no injuries to the passengers or crew, however the Air Accidents Investigation Branch made seven safety recommendations in the final accident report.
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