Heathrow growth could help district

John Parkin, chief executive of Leeds Bradford Airport.
John Parkin, chief executive of Leeds Bradford Airport.
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The district’s links to global growth opportunities will be on the agenda next month, when Heathrow Airport’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, meets his Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) counterpart, John Parkin.

Heathrow has already announced a package of commitments to bolster connections to LBA and help Yorkshire businesses connect with markets around the world – but only if expansion at Heathrow is given the go-ahead.

The package is designed to help support routes from LBA to Heathrow – which connects to 75 destinations worldwide not served by other airports – and includes a review of Heathrow’s charges for domestic routes to be implemented in January 2016. A £10m Route Development Fund will also be established to provide start-up support for new routes between airports like LBA and Heathrow.

Mr Parkin said: “Leeds Bradford is the international gateway airport for the great region of Yorkshire – an important tourist and business destination.

“Expansion at Heathrow will mean that our business and leisure passengers have access to a much wider choice of worldwide destinations serving the needs of our region.”

While important to Yorkshire’s economy, the LBA to Heathrow route has had a chequered past. It was withdrawn between 2009 and 2012, and even now on certain days, the day’s first departure from LBA to Heathrow lands after 10.30am, and the last return flight takes off before 3pm – significantly reducing the chances of a convenient connection to growth markets around the world.

Independent research commissioned by Heathrow indicates that expansion at the hub airport would bring up to £9bn in economic growth and 11,200 new jobs to Yorkshire and the Humber.

Mr Holland-Kaye said: “We’re ready to connect Yorkshire to global growth. We have been listening to businesses, politicians and now to the National Connectivity Task Force, and today’s announcement shows that we have a plan to deliver what Britain needs.”