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) from Bradford city centre.[1] It serves Leeds and Bradford and the wider Yorkshire region including York and 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.[3] Bridgepoint sold it in 2017 to AMP Capital.[4][5]

Leeds Bradford Airport
Leeds Bradford Airport (geograph 6132072).jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerAMP Capital
OperatorLeeds Bradford Airport Limited
ServesLeeds, Harrogate, Bradford, York, Huddersfield, Kirklees, Calderdale, and Wakefield
LocationYeadon, West Yorkshire, England
Opened17 October 1931 (1931-10-17)
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL681 ft / 208 m
Coordinates53°51′58″N 001°39′39″W / 53.86611°N 1.66083°W / 53.86611; -1.66083Coordinates: 53°51′58″N 001°39′39″W / 53.86611°N 1.66083°W / 53.86611; -1.66083
EGNM is located in West Yorkshire
Location in West Yorkshire
Direction Length Surface
m ft
14/32 2,250 7,382 Concrete
Statistics (2018)
Passenger change 17–18Decrease1.0%
Aircraft Movements38,680
Movements change 17–18Increase12.0%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Leeds Bradford opened on 17 October 1931 when it was known as Leeds and Bradford Municipal Aerodrome or Yeadon Aerodrome;[6] 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).[7] By the number of passengers handled in 2018, Leeds Bradford was the 15th busiest airport in the UK.[8] It is a base for Eastern Airways, Jet2.com and Ryanair.


Opening and early operationsEdit

What would become known as Leeds Bradford Airport was built during the late 1920s and early 1930s on 60 acres of grassland along the old Bradford to Harrogate road.[9] On 17 October 1931, the airport, which was interchangeably known as the Leeds and Bradford Municipal Aerodrome or Yeadon Aerodrome in its early years, was officially opened.[10] Initially, the site was operated by the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club on behalf of the Leeds and Bradford Corporations. Its early operations were typified by training and general aviation flights.[9]

During 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 soon extended to Edinburgh (Turnhouse). In June 1935, Blackpool and West Coast Air Services launched a new service to the Isle of Man.[11] By 1936, the London/Yeadon/Newcastle/Edinburgh service was flying three times a week and also stopped at Doncaster and carried on to Aberdeen (Dyce).[citation needed]

Seasonal flights between Yeadon and Liverpool also commenced during the 1930s. To accommodate the expanding passenger numbers at the airport, work commenced on a terminal building. However, progress on the terminal was halted after only a single wing had been completed.[10] During this time, the German zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg overflew Yeadon Aerodrome; while this flight was claimed to have been for publicity purposes, the zeppelin was later found to have been engaged in espionage of British air bases.[9]

Wartime useEdit

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.[12] The factory was connected to the aerodrome by a dedicated taxiway from where the aircraft Avro built made their way to make their maiden flights.[13] 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.[13] 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.[9]

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.[14] 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).[15] Decreased demand at the end of the conflict saw the factory closed in December 1946.[13] 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.[13]

1947 to 1969Edit

A de Havilland Dragon of Air Navigation & Trading at Yeadon Airport, May 1956

In 1947, civil flights recommenced.[15] Local resident Geoff Rennard who had campaigned for Leeds and Bradford to have an aerodrome gained permission to establish 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.[11] Scheduled flights to London commenced in 1960; a route to Dublin by Aer Lingus was added shortly after.[9] In 1965, a new runway was opened and the in same year the terminal building was accidentally destroyed in a fire. Its replacement was started shortly after and was operational by 1968.[10]

1970 to 1994Edit

A British Airways Boeing 747-100 lands at the airport, 1984
A British Airways Concorde taxis at the airport, 1987

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.[16][9]

In 1978, it was recognised that, if runway extensions were completed, the airport could be upgraded to regional airport status.[10] During 1982, construction work commenced; the project involved a significant extension to 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 extension was completed.[9] Around this time, the airport also underwent significant extensions and redevelopments to the terminal building, the first phase of which was opened on 18 July 1985.[17]

On 4 November 1984, the day the runway extension was officially opened, Wardair commenced transatlantic flights from Leeds Bradford to Toronto, using Boeing 747s, though these flights were discontinued in 1989 when Wardair ceased operations. However, Worldways Canada, Odyssey International, Air Transat, Nationair and Caledonian all operated transatlantic services from the airport well into the 1990s using a mixture of Lockheed Tristar and Boeing 757-200 airliners.[18][15]

On 2 August 1986, an Air France Concorde charter flight from Paris landed at Leeds Bradford for the first time; an estimated 70,000 people were drawn to the airport to catch a glimpse of the supersonic airliner.[9][19] Occasional Concorde charter flights, all of which used British Airways aircraft, continued until June 2000, just one month before the Concorde disaster in Paris.[citation needed]

Initially, Leeds Bradford Airport had restricted operating hours; this limitation proved to be a deterrent to many charter airlines, whose cheap fares were heavily dependent on 'round-the-clock' use of their aircraft. During 1994, these restrictions were removed, enabling services to use the airport 24 hours per day, after which more airlines were attracted to Leeds Bradford.[10][20]

1995 to dateEdit

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.[15] 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.[citation needed]

Between 2000 and 2013, the airport was home to the West/South air platform of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. It moved to Nostell in November 2013.[21][22]

On 6 October 2005, the original runway, 09/27, was permanently closed; it has since been redeveloped as a taxiway and to provide additional apron space.[23]

Current facilitiesEdit

The airport has one terminal and two air bridges. It has 24 aircraft stands capable of handling up to Boeing 767-200 airliners but there are proposals to expand this by up to around 32. The terminal consists of two check-in halls: Check in hall A is used by all airlines except Jet2; the other is solely used and operated by Jet2. Upstairs there is a retail space which comprises shops, restaurants, bars and a duty-free area. There are three lounges in the international departures lounge. There are long, medium and short-stay car parks that provide a combined total of 7,000 parking spaces at the airport, along with several drop off points.[citation needed]

The terminal houses multiple duty-free outlets along with several other food and beverage chains, including Camden Foods, Burger King, WH Smiths, Boots and Starbucks.[citation needed]

Jet2.com's head office is located in the Low Fare Finder House, a building on the grounds of Leeds Bradford Airport. Jet2.com's parent company, Dart Group, has its head office in the same building. West Yorkshire Police are also based at the airport.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


In line with government recommendations, Leeds Bradford Airport published a masterplan in March 2017.[24] Since then, planning has been secured 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. Both 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 for the airport, the latter of which will provide a 10 minute connection to Leeds City railway station.[25][26] The use of £100 million of taxpayer money to finance the redevelopment has been criticised by the Green Party due to the pollution generated by air travel.[27] Environmental groups such as Extinction Rebellion have also objected to the development.[28]

RAF YeadonEdit

Royal Air Force Station Yeadon
TypeMilitary airfield
Site information
Controlled byRoyal Air Force
Site history
In use1936–1939, 1946–1957
Garrison information
GarrisonRAF Fighter Command

609 (West Riding) Squadron was based here from its formation on 10 February 1936,[29] until 27 August 1939 when they were relocated to Catterick.[30] During 1946, 609 Squadron was reformed and returned to Yeadon during the following year.[31] The squadron was equipped with the de Havilland Mosquito MK.XXX, this aircraft proved to be difficult to operate on account of the runways being too short to comfortably operate these aircraft. Safety speed (that which the aircraft needs to be flown and controlled on a single engine) was not reached until over flying central Leeds if taking off in that direction—with obviously drastic results should things go wrong on take-off. In addition, the airfield sloped downhill, meaning that it was necessary to land at RAF Linton-on-Ouse (20 miles away) if the wind was coming from the wrong direction.[32] Eventually, the Air Ministry re-equipped 609 with Spitfire LFXVIs.[32] This was sufficient as a short-term measure, but the grass airstrip was not ideally suited to Spitfire operations, and so it was decided that 609 Squadron should move to the hard runways of RAF Church Fenton in October 1950.[33]

Yeadon was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force and became part of firstly 13 Group, then 12 Group at a later date. 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, whereupon 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.[34]

  • 609 (West Riding) Squadron 1936-1939, 1946–1950
  • 23 Gliding School 1946-1950
  • Leeds University Air Squadron 1955-1960
  • 1970 Flight 1952-1957

Aircraft that would have been based at Yeadon:

Airport ownershipEdit

Leeds and Bradford councils jointly bought the airport site at Yeadon in 1930, which opened as Yeadon Aerodrome in 1931. The airport became a limited company in 1987, and was shared between the five surrounding boroughs of Leeds (40%), Bradford (40%) and Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees (together sharing the remaining 20%).[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Airlines and destinationsEdit


Passengers and movementsEdit

Number of
Air Transport
Leeds Bradford Airport Passenger Totals
1997–2018 (millions)
1997 1,254,853 26,123
1998 1,406,948 25,615
1999 1,462,497 26,185
2000 1,585,039 29,263
2001 1,530,227 28,397
2002 1,530,019 28,566
2003 2,017,649 29,397
2004 2,368,604 31,493
2005 2,609,638 35,949
2006 2,792,686 37,251
2007 2,881,539 39,603
2008 2,873,321 37,604
2009 2,574,426 32,531
2010 2,755,110 33,911
2011 2,976,881 33,069
2012 2,990,517 30,223
2013 3,318,358 31,057
2014 3,274,474 30,663
2015 3,445,302 31,149
2016 3,612,117 32,196
2017 4,078,069 34,549
2018 4,038,889 38,680
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]


Busiest routes to and from Leeds Bradford (2018)[45]
Rank Destination Total
2017 / 18
1   Alicante 317,280   3.4% Jet2, Ryanair
2   Dublin 289,963   2.6% Aer Lingus Regional, Ryanair
3   Málaga 282,430   2.8% Jet2, Ryanair
4   Palma de Mallorca 253,567   4.3% Jet2, Ryanair, TUI Airways
5   Amsterdam 252,180   4.3% Jet2, KLM Cityhopper
6   Tenerife–South 200,690   5.8% Jet2, Ryanair
7   Faro 197,124   17.9% Jet2, Ryanair
8   Belfast–City 165,858   1.0% Flybe
9   Lanzarote 141,012   3.1% Jet2, Ryanair
10   London–Heathrow 103,706   36.0% British Airways
11   Ibiza 94,053   2.6% Jet2, Ryanair,
12   Gran Canaria 93,472   1.7% Jet2, Ryanair
13   Kraków 78,726   5.9% Jet2, Ryanair
14   Fuerteventura 73,080   5.0% Jet2, Ryanair
15   Murcia 55,510   19.0% Jet2, Ryanair
16   Gdańsk 65,182   1.9% Ryanair
17   Dalaman 63,847   53.5% Jet2
18   Antalya 60,196   191.5% Jet2,
19   Barcelona 54,732   27.4% Jet2, Ryanair
20   Malta 54,502   13.8% Jet2, Ryanair

Ground transportEdit

Bus interchange

Bus services that link the airport include the 757 route to Leeds operated by Yorkshire Tiger which runs every 20 minutes. Routes 737 and 747, also operated by Yorkshire Tiger, run to Bradford Interchange, and the 747 route extends to Harrogate. Keighley Bus Company operates route 62 to Otley and extends to Menston railway station, Ilkley and Keighley.[46] Services to 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.[citation needed]

As part of both the airport and Metro's long-term strategies, there are proposals for the construction of a direct rail link to the airport on a branch from the Harrogate Line, however no firm commitments or timescales have been announced.[47] Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland has consistently campaigned for the construction of a rail link, having his case heard by transport minister Susan Kramer in March 2015.[48] The two nearest railway stations are Guiseley and Horsforth. There is a direct link by the 737 Bradford–Airport bus from the airport to Guiseley, and service 757 between Leeds and the Airport provides a service between the Airport and New Road Side in Horsforth where connections exist with service(s) 31 and 32 to Horsforth railway station Monday to Saturday during daytime.[citation needed]

Flight training and general aviationEdit

Multiflight aircraft hangar.

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.[49] General aviation operations are confined to the south-side of the airport, in order to maintain separation from commercial traffic utilising the main terminal.[citation needed]

In addition to numerous privately owned aircraft hangared on the south-side, a fleet of around 18 training aircraft are based at the airport. These include Cessna 152s, Piper PA28s and Beechcraft BE-76 Duchess twin engine trainers and Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters.[citation needed]

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.[50] In the past decade, over £10m has been invested into infrastructure on the south side by Multiflight.[citation needed]

The Aviation Academy is also located in a hangar at Leeds Bradford Airport, in conjunction with the Open University. Aviation professionals Derek Brickell and Peter Jackson, are based at the academy. The academy trains and prepares students to work in the aviation industry.[51]

Incidents and accidentsEdit

Prior to 1985, there were two recorded incidents of runway overruns at Leeds Bradford Airport, both involving British Midland Airways Viscount aircraft, and both showing evidence of hydroplaning.[52]

British Airtours Lockheed Tristar at end of runway 14, 1985
  • 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.[52][53]
  • 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.[54][55]
  • 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.[56][57]

See alsoEdit


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Further readingEdit

  • Phillips, Alan (1994). Sixty Years of Leeds Bradford Airport. Beverley, East Yorkshire: Hutton Press. ISBN 1 872167 640.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Leeds Bradford International Airport at Wikimedia Commons