Biggest jets could land at Leeds Bradford, chief executive says

Some of the world’s largest passenger jets could one day land at Leeds Bradford Airport, its new chief executive has said.

David Laws, who has moved to LBA from Newcastle Airport, thinks that the Yeadon runway could accommodate Boeing 777 or A350 planes.

Leeds Bradford Airport's new CEO, David Laws. 10 July 2017.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

Leeds Bradford Airport's new CEO, David Laws. 10 July 2017. Picture Bruce Rollinson

Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, he said: “It’s not the longest runway, but that said, 15 years ago if you’d said Newcastle would get a daily service to Dubai, people would have laughed. They’ve now got a 777 flying into Newcastle every day. Their runway is not much different to here.

“But with the advancement in aircraft technology and aircraft engines, it’s made some of these things much more of a possibility.”

Asked whether 777 planes could land at LBA, he said: “In time, there’s definitely that opportunity.”

He added: “But the world’s moved on from 777s now; there are 350s, which would have no problem in my opinion operating on this runway.”

E-commerce and freight are other markets which LBA bosses are trying to tap into, according to LBA head of planning development Charles Johnson.

“We’re never going to be Gatwick in terms of freight but we can do more than what we are doing,” he said.

Opportunities to capitalise on shipping E-commerce products, with a growing market spearheaded by the likes of Amazon, is another area to look into, he added.

Mr Laws started his career at Newcastle Airport as a trainee fireman, worked up to safety and to human resources and then to head of passenger services. He was the commercial manager at Newcastle responsible for bringing on board Jet 2, Emirates and a Newcastle/New York direct flight. He was chief executive there for 10 years before coming to LBA in May.

“The customer journey is very important, and the potential here in Leeds is massive,” he said.

He already knew the area, having been to many a Yorkshire football ground – not as a spectator but as a referee. Mr Laws also coached – and is still friends with former protégé Alan Shearer.