Yorkshire could be in line for an £11bn tourism and business bonanza in a proposed deal to boost the number of flights between Leeds Bradford Airport and Heathrow, it is claimed.
Heathrow boss John Holland-Kaye will meet Leeds Bradford chief John Parkin next month to discuss a financial deal designed to support more flights to and from the capital.
The deal is dependent on Heathrow getting permission to expand.
A £10 million Route Development Fund is being proposed to provide start-up support for new routes to Heathrow which could benefit Humberside and Liverpool airports.
Research commissioned by Heathrow claims that its expansion could benefit Yorkshire to the tune of £9bn in growth and 11,200 jobs.
The proposals would make it easier for businesses to move in Yorkshire and for Yorkshire-based business people to get to the capital and across the world.
It could also boost numbers of tourists and other travellers visiting Yorkshire. Heathrow connects to 75 destinations worldwide that aren’t served by other UK airports.
Heathrow bosses said the package included a review of Heathrow’s charges to operators for domestic routes to be implemented in January 2016.
Although important to Yorkshire’s economy, the Leeds Bradford to Heathrow route has had a chequered past and currently supports only three daily flights, all operated by British Airways.
The Leeds Bradford to Heathrow route was withdrawn between 2009 and 2012.
Today, the first daily departure from Leeds Bradford to Heathrow lands after 10.30am, and the last return flight takes off before 3pm. This significantly reduces the chances of a convenient connection time for passengers flying into Heathrow.
Heathrow said the plans, announced today, would see it partner UK airports, chambers of commerce and regional government to jointly approach airlines to improve existing routes to ensure greater frequencies and better timing of flights.
A Heathrow spokesman said the measures would boost the seven existing routes from UK airports to Heathrow, offering the potential for better times and more flights.
“Our analysis indicates that passengers would be able to fly from nine domestic airports not currently served by Heathrow, meaning that a total of at least 16 regional airports will have the opportunity of direct links to the UK’s hub.”
John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow, 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. Only Heathrow can connect all of Britain to global growth. That’s why we are best for Britain and backed by Britain. Let’s get on with it. “
Tony Hallwood, Leeds Bradford Airport’s aviation development director, said the Heathrow flights had been very successful in the last year, with passenger figures up 12 per cent.
He believes LBA-Heathrow flight frequencies could more than double from three to around five of six per day.
The impact on inbound tourism and business would be significant. He believes overseas companies could look to relocate to Yorkshire.
A decision on Heathrow’s expansion plans is expected after the General Election.