LEEDS Bradford Airport is celebrating its 90th birthday

The airport started operating on October 17, 1931, and has been serving the county of Yorkshire, and beyond, ever since.

When it opened, Leeds and Bradford Municipal Aerodrome, referred to locally as Yeadon Aerodrome, served for general aviation and training purposes. Since then, the airport has lived through a World War, fires, a new terminal, a new runway and most recently, a pandemic.

By 1935, following a 140,000 square metre expansion, LBA started operating with North Eastern Airways for the airport’s first scheduled commercial services, flying to Newcastle, Doncaster, and Aberdeen. With the beginnings of the Second World War, plans for a new passenger terminal were downscaled in 1939, as the airport was repurposed to support the national war effort.

During the Second World War, an Avro factory was built just to the north of LBA between 1941 and 1942, with the finished facility becoming the largest single span factory building in Europe of its time at 500,000 sq ft. Sitting on top of the structure, a camouflage roof protected the site from attack throughout the war, with the development of a second runway, extra hangars, and taxiways further supporting LBA’s role in the war effort.

Over 5,500 military aircraft were built at the Avro factory during the Second World War at Leeds Bradford Airport, including 4,500 Avro Ansons, 300 “Yorks”, and nearly 700 Lancaster bombers.

In the post-war era, LBA remained under jurisdiction of the military until 1947, when civilian use and commercial flights were able to resume. In 1953, Yeadon Aviation Ltd was established to manage the airport operations. During this period, the airport opened a new terminal and runway, which aided an increase in travel and tourism for Yorkshire. Alongside the good people of Yorkshire, many famous faces have travelled through the airport over the years, including, Diana, Princess of Wales, the Beatles, Louis Armstrong and Nelson Mandela.

As airport traffic increased post-war, the airport grew to accommodate its passengers, with an additional runwayextension and the construction of a tunnel for the A658 road connecting Bradford to Harrogate. In 1985, the airport took its current name - Leeds Bradford Airport. The 80’s also saw the start of transatlantic services, with Boeing 757’s and Lockheed L-1011 TriStars making journeys to Canada. Most notably, the supersonic jet, Concorde operated from Leeds Bradford Airport until the year 2000.

A spokesman said: "The airport has seen many changes since 1931 and now serves a wide variety of international transport links, with approximately four million passengers passing through the airport on a yearly basis. Currently, LBA flies to more than 70 worldwide destinations, partnering with major airlines such as Jet2, Ryanair, British Airways, Aer Lingus, KLM, easyJet, Aurigny and Eastern.

"As Yorkshire’s airport, LBA provides vital connectivity to access global markets, attracting inward investment to the region, as well as enabling worldwide travel to, and from, God’s Own County.

"LBA wants to thank all of passengers for their support over the years and has asked those wishing to celebrate the airport to use the hashtag #90yearsofLBA on social media.

"As part of its 90th birthday celebration, LBA will be hosting an exhibition event Saturday, October 23, detailing the history of Yorkshire’s airport. The exhibition will take place at Hields Aviation (Bradford Airport, Yeadon, Leeds, LS19 7UG) between 10am to 5pm. Artifacts of Leeds Bradford Airport will be on display showcasing the history of the site, including some never before shown photographs of its history, and that of the Avro factory. This event will also provide an opportunity to see historic aircraft in flight and meet members of the Air Yorkshire Aviation Society."