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Leeds Bradford Airport

Leeds Bradford International Airport

Airport Code: LBA

Leeds Bradford International Airport (LBA) was originally Yeadon Aerodrome, which began operating in October 1931 with club flying and training flights being predominant activities. At this time it was on 60 acres of grassland along the Bradford Harrogate Road and flying was mainly in the Cirrus and Gypsy Moth aircraft and later Puss and Leopard Moth for training and charters.

By 1935 the airport had been extended by a further 35 acres and schedule air services commenced to Newcastle and Edinburgh with North Eastern Airways.  Services to Blackpool and the Isle of Man also started with West Coast air Services.  In 1936 609 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary air Force was formed at the Aerodrome and seasonal holiday services were operated to the Isle of Man and Liverpool by Isle of Man Air Services.  Plans were also announced this year for a £40,000 terminal building but only one wing was built and then demolished in 1977 to make way for new facilities that form the basis of the present terminal.

All civil flying ceased in 1939 with the outbreak of war.  During the war years more than 4,500 aircraft were built at the Avro Factory adjacent to the Airport, including the Anson, Lancaster, York and Lincoln and many of these made their first flights from Yeadon.  So that these new aircraft could be test flown, two runways, taxiways and flight test hangars were built on the aerodrome.

Post war civil flights began in 1947, and in 1953 Yeadon Aviation Ltd was formed to operate the Airport and run the Yeadon Aero Club. BKS Air Transport started scheduled services to Belfast, Jersey, Ostend, Southend, the Isle of Wight and Düsseldorf in 1955 and then the Leeds Bradford Airport Joint Committee took over the Airport in 1959.  Work was soon underway to improve the facilities, with the installation of permanent airfield lighting and extensions to passenger facilities and apron areas.

The first daily London service started in 1960 with BKS and later that year Aer Lingus began to operate a service to  Dublin.  A Public Inquiry followed soon after in 1963 and permission was given to construct a new runway.  Work commenced quickly and the new runway became operational in 1965.
In May 1965 the terminal building was substantially destroyed by fire so construction of a new passenger terminal commenced later that year and was opened for use in February 1968.

Inclusive tour holiday flights commenced in 1976 with flights to the Iberian Peninsula by Britannia Airways on behalf of Thomson Holidays.

In 1978 a Government White Paper on Airports Policy identified that Yorkshire could sustain a Category B regional airport, and concluded that Leeds Bradford could fulfil this role provided that the main runway (15/33) was extended. The following year a Public Inquiry was held to consider the planning application to extend the runway and terminal facilities, and in December 1980 the Secretary of State approved the application but imposed a restriction on operating hours.

Construction work started in 1982 of a £23 million scheme to extend the main runway by 2,250 metres, improve and divert the A658 Bradford to Harrogate road (including incorporating a twin tunnel under the runway) and substantial improvements to the terminal facilities.

The completion of the runway extension was marked on 4th November 1984 with two pleasure flights organised by The Yorkshire Post, who chartered a British Airways Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet for the day, calling it "The Spirit of Yoekshire".  Wardair also marked the day by operating the airport's first transatlantic flight to Toronto.

The first phase of the terminal extension was opened by HRH the Duchess of Kent on 18th July the following year, and rapid growth followed in both charter and scheduled services.  By 1986 half a million passengers passed through the airport and Air France's Concorde visited for the first time.

In 1987, Leeds Bradford Airport was converted into a limited company under the provisions of the Airports Act 1986 and the five metropolitan councils of West Yorkshire became the shareholders of the new company. Leeds and Bradford each own 40% and Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees share equally the remaining 20%.

Leeds Bradford Airport gained approval for 24 hour availability in 1994 which allowed operations to continue during night-time hours, albeit with restrictions only permitting the quietest aircraft to operate between 2300 to 0700.

In 1996 the Airport saw its millionth passenger, and in 2001 just over 1.5 million passengers passed through the Airport. Since 1996 the terminal building has virtually doubled in size with new and improved arrivals and departure facilities, lounges and two new air bridges. Construction works have recently been completed on a £5 million scheme to refurbish and extent the landside catering and restaurant facilities and a new aircraft maintenance facilities and business and executive aviation centre are to be built on the south side of the airport.


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