LBA’s new terminal proposals & the NPR

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LBA new terminal proposal

You may have read in the newspapers or heard on local TV news that a new plan has been announced by the CEO of Leeds Bradford Airport, which proposes building a new terminal building (and removing the existing building). The approximate site of the new building would be where the current long-term parking facility is located, farther along White House Lane, at the end of the taxiway. That location appears to have been chosen so that the access to the runway apron (for embarkation/disembarkation of the aircraft) remains in roughly the same place.

The announcement is being made in terms which focus upon the carbon-minimisation opportunity of a new terminal and the interconnectivity which LBA can bring through its expansion program. What will be of interest and potential concern to residents of Menston and Burley is that the proposed increase in passenger numbers (from 4.0m per annum currently to 7.1m per annum by 2030) has not changed. LBA and its parent company (the Australian company, AMP Capital) continue to believe that this target can be achieved and that a new terminal will facilitate this through an improved customer experience.

Included in the planning application is a proposal to extend daytime flying hours. Daytime hours are currently defined as 7.00am to 11.00pm, with night-time therefore being classed as 11.00pm to 7am.

Daytime flying hours are to be extended, allowing for unrestricted flying between 6.00am and 11.30pm. In essence, some flights that are currently classed as night-time flights (those between 6am-7am, and 11.00-11.30pm), will become daytime flights. Therefore, there’s a potential to have more flights during daytime hours, and the same number of night-time flights (2,800) during proposed reduced night-time hours. That is potentially an overall increase in daytime and night-time flights.

Leeds Braford Airport discussion group

Here’s LBA’s presentation about the new terminal building. LBA new terminal presentation (17MB Powerpoint).

The implications of higher passenger numbers at LBA

LBA is aiming for 7.1million passengers per annum. Its forecasts of passenger numbers have always been optimistic. In its MasterPlan of 2005, LBA was forecasting 8.2m passengers by 2030. This target has been progressively scaled-back to 7.1m, based on actual numbers in the intervening period not meeting LBA’s expectations. For example, LBA was forecasting 5.1m (pax p.a.) by 2016. It achieved only 3.6m.

The graphs below show the increase in passenger numbers and Air Traffic Movements (ATM’s – flights) in the period 1997 to 2018. (Hover over graph for values, please note passengers are 1/100th scale)

LBA Passenger numbers (1/100 scale) compared to

Air traffic movements (actual) 1997 – 2018

Passenger number forecast based on historical passenger numbers

LBA historical passenger number analysis

If we consider what has happened historically at Leeds Bradford Airport passenger wise, and forward forecast, we can derive the following outcomes from our won analysis:

  • Forecasted passenger numbers of 5,605,707 in 2030.
  • The lower confidence bound is 4,496,866
  • The upper confidence bound is 6,714,548

We should say that these figures are optimistic at best, particularly given that there has been a net global decline in passenger numbers over the last 2 years. In 2017 – 2018 LBA saw a decline in passenger numbers of 300,000, and the outlook for global aviation in 2019 doesn’t look any more favourable **. Many airports and airlines are anticipating a further decline in passenger numbers into 2019 and 2020.

**The latest passenger figures as reported by LBA are now shown in our blog along with an updated passenger forecast.

In 2010 LBA carried 2.78m pax and by 2015 this had increased to 3.45m pax. Traffic peaked in 2017 (at 4.07m) and fell slightly in 2018, such that in 2018 LBA handled 4.04m passengers. This decline was blamed on the demise of Monarch, then on Thomas Cook’s disappearance, but also British Airways which had originally offered 4 flights to and from Heathrow daily, but cancelled one of those flights (because of under-occupancy) and that had a knock-on effect of limiting access through Heathrow to international destinations.

Except for a few flights around Christmas each year, major international destinations must be accessed by transfer through a hub such as London, Dublin or Amsterdam. This is not capable of rapid change, if at all, owing to LBA having only one runway (although arrivals and departures can progress in both directions, but these are influenced by the prevailing Westerly winds). This is why around 80% of all flights leave LBA by runway 32, the flight path passing between Menston and Burley. Some recent changes to “controlled airspace” should mean that LBA may be able to route flights off runway 32 on a more northerly heading, owing to a reduction in military airspace, formerly dedicated to RAF stations at Dishforth and Linton-on-Ouse. This would allow flights to be routed along the Otley/Burley Bypass with a turn to West around Middleton or Denton. This is all to be negotiated. None of this is guaranteed and any Airspace Change would have to be progressed through the CAA. As you know, the previous proposal was rejected by reason of failure to consult properly.

Assuming LBA did manage to increase passenger numbers to 7.1m by 2030

  • In 2010 – 2,775,000 pax were carried on 33,911 flights (average occupancy =   81.2 pax/flight)
  • In 2018 – 4,038,000 pax were carried on 38,680 flights (average occupancy = 104.4 pax/flight)

The increase in load factor has been achieved by the acquisition of new aircraft by the principal carriers (Jet2 & Ryanair, with the Boeing 737-800 series aircraft) which have a maximum (one-class) seating capacity of 189. Quite often, during peak season, these aircraft are full to capacity, but not so in the low season and, furthermore, LBA has a number of carriers with smaller aircraft for shorter-haul destinations, eg. Aer Lingus and British Airways, and this reduces the average load capacity. Given that LBA cannot (by reason of limitations on its single runway and the nature of that runway) handle much larger aircraft, it has to be likely that we will not see an increase in the average occupied seats beyond 105 or 110 in the period to 2030.

Currently, 80% of all flights departing LBA, overfly Burley & Menston

Runway layout at LBA

If LBA did increase its passenger numbers to 7.1 million, the number of flights required annually would rise accordingly.

  • to 64,545 if average occupancy was 110 or
  • to 67,619 if average occupancy was to remain at 105.

Adding another 3.1m passengers is likely to massively increase the number of flights from LBA. In 2018, Menston and Burley had some 80% of all flights departing LBA, which equates to 30,944 flights per year, most of those during the summer months. Even if seats were squeezed more closely together than they currently are, and the occupancy on flights increased to 110, we’re still likely to experience 80% of 64,545 flights off runway 32, that’s 51,636 annual flights.

Burley in Wharfedale & Menston (30,994 flights), runway 32 - 80%
Leeds (7,748 flights), runway 14 - 20%

Carbon emissions at Leeds Bradford Airport

The carbon released from 51,000 flights is far greater than current emissions, and even that is not calculated.

LBA (in its Press Statement) says they will be net zero carbon for the emissions we control, however, LBA don’t control the aircraft: some readers will misconstrue this statement. If the flights didn’t stay on track and continued to release fuel vapours which fall to ground (as they do), there wouldn’t be a roof in Menston or Burley which didn’t have an accumulation of fuel deposits on them.

Click image to enlarge and for additional detail.

LBA’s filght departure noise levels

Then, there’s the noise, which is one of the key factors affecting residents of Burley & Menston.

The way in which aircraft noise is monitored and recorded is over a 16-hour period. The methodology is termed LEQ16, the average noise over the period of 16 (daylight) hours. The noise of individual flights is what is most noticed, and this is termed Lmax. From the monitoring information, it is observable that the noise of individual flights varies from 67decibels (dB) to 76dB routinely (measured 1km from the flightpath). The maximum allowable, and occasionally noted, is 80dB. The Civil Aviation Authority comments:

“Although maximum noise limits are set for occupational noise exposure, there is no limit defined for environmental noise, including aviation noise. However, in order to assess the significance of aircraft noise in the UK, it is generally assumed that if the average noise level in an area from 7.00am to 11.00pm is more than 57dBA LEQ , it will be “significantly annoying” to the community that live and work there.”

For more information, please read the LBA Noise Action Plan 2019 – 2023 (PDF 10.2MB)

Click image to enlarge and for additional detail.

Burley & Menston saw 970 daytime and 152 night-time movements in September 2019. In May to October 2019, 77% of night-time movements (2,142 of 2,783) took place on runway 32 over Burley & Menston (see graph below).

May to October 2019 night-time flight movements

Burley in Wharfedale & Menston night-time movements (2,142) , runway 32 - 77%
Leeds night-time movements (641), runway 14 - 23%
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