Addressing Competitive Disadvantage
Leeds Bradford Airport is seeking a relaxation of night-time flight restrictions, citing a competitive and economic disadvantage compared to other UK airports. At present, strict rules regulate the number of flights allowed and noise levels during an eight-hour night-time period, from 11pm to 7am. These rules, established in 1993, limit annual flights during this time to 4,000, along with restrictions on training flights and other aircraft movements.
The airport’s proposal aims to extend the daytime period by 90 minutes, reducing the restrictive night-time slot to run from 11:30 pm to 6 am. This change would accommodate new airlines and additional flights, supporting the airport’s goal of increasing passenger numbers from 4 million to 7 million by 2030.
Expansion Plans and New Terminal
As a part of this expansion, airport executives have revealed plans for a £150 million terminal building. This new terminal would replace the existing one and is slated to open in 2023. Leeds City Council’s plans panel is set to discuss these proposals on January 30, and airport officials are expected to submit a planning application in the coming months.
According to a council report, Leeds Bradford Airport intends to change its daytime flight regime by reducing current night-time restrictions, adding one hour in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. The goal is to accommodate new airline operators and destinations, with a focus on increasing business flights. Aligning Leeds Bradford Airport’s operations with other UK commercial airports would enable it to boost passenger numbers and compete more effectively with northern airports.
Environmental Concerns and Local Infrastructure
However, the airport expansion plan has raised concerns among environmentalists, who worry about increased emissions resulting from more flights. Despite declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the council is considering supporting this expansion by constructing a new train station nearby.
Climate scientists from the University of Leeds have warned the council that to achieve Leeds’ ambitious carbon reduction targets, passenger numbers must be “massively reduced”. They argue that the proposed expansion is “entirely at odds with any serious attempt” to address climate change.