still dominant at Leeds/Bradford despite Ryanair’s 14 new routes this summer

Image: Ryanair launch
Ryanair has announced that another 14 routes will join its Dublin, Alicante and Girona flights at Leeds/Bradford by the end of March. With more than twice as many destinations, does, however, remain the airport’s largest airline.

The launch of Leeds/Bradford based low-cost carrier in February 2003 gave a major boost to air travel at the airport. Between 1998 and 2002, passenger numbers had been around the one and a half million mark.
However,’s rapid rise meant that the airport handled two million passengers in 2003 and over 2.5 million just two years later. Demand levelled off between 2006 and 2008 before falling just under 11% last year to 2.55 million. The announcement last year that Ryanair will base two aircraft at the airport and launch 14 new routes from the end of March may push demand back towards the three million mark in 2010.

Chart: Traffic 97-09
Source: UK CAA

In 2008, charter traffic represented just 10% of the total, as’s leisure-focussed network has replaced several charter services.

Image: Terminal concept
A US$45 million terminal development will start this year and a five-year target of five million annual passengers – nearly the double of current figures – has been set. operating to 36 destinations this summer remains the busiest carrier at the airport and will serve 36 destinations this summer, including new weekly flights to Bergerac (from 22 May), Corfu (from 21 June) and Monastir (from 23 May). The airline has dropped remarkably few routes in its seven years of operation at the airport, though Almeria, Hamburg Lübeck, Madrid and Valencia are no longer served. During the summer season, operates twice-daily to Alicante, Amsterdam, Belfast, Malaga and Palma de Mallorca.

Chart: Main airlines at Leeds/bradford
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 7 July 2008 and 5 July 2010

Ryanair started Dublin flights in May 1996 and Shannon flights in November 2007. Alicante and Girona flights began in October 2008 while the Shannon service was dropped. The 14 new routes starting at the end of March are to France (Carcassonne, Limoges, Montpellier, Nantes), Ireland (Knock), Italy (Pisa, Venice Treviso), Malta, Poland (Krakow), Portugal (Faro) and Spain (Ibiza, Malaga, Murcia, Palma). Several of these are likely to be seasonal, summer-only routes. Not surprisingly, the average weekly frequency of these new routes is just three.
According to CAA data, the top five routes for annual passengers in 2008 were Amsterdam, Dublin, Alicante, Malaga and Palma de Mallorca.

Flybe replaces bmi on London route

Logo: Yorkshire evening
Click here to watch the Yorkshire Evening Post’s excellent and informative video report on Ryanair’s recent announcement of the new Leeds Bradford base.

Apart from Ryanair’s growth at the airport, Flybe has also increased its presence in recent years. Primarily, this is down to the introduction of three-times daily services to London Gatwick from the end of September 2009, after bmi ditched its London Heathrow service at the end of March 2009. Flybe also offers daily non-stop flights to Aberdeen, Belfast City, Exeter and Southampton. bmi still operates twice-daily to Edinburgh and Glasgow and three-times daily to Brussels. KLM operates three daily flights to Amsterdam. However, there are no flights to Europe’s other major hub in Frankfurt, with only’s six-times weekly service to Düsseldorf providing any connectivity with Germany.

Eastern Airways operates daily flights to Aberdeen and Southampton (competing with Flybe on both routes). Other routes on which passengers will have a choice of airline this summer are Alicante, Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, Murcia and Palma (all served by both and Ryanair) and Amsterdam ( or KLM).

Other UK regional services are provided by Air Southwest which flies to Bristol and which connects with the Isle Of Man. One of the more unlikely destinations served non-stop is Islamabad in Pakistan, which has been served twice or three-times weekly by PIA since July 2008. This route caters to the significant Asian ethnic population which resides in the Leeds and Bradford area. Last year, the airline carried just over 40,000 passengers on the route, up 50% from 2008.


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