London flights from Leeds Bradford Airport resume

It is the first time direct flights have left from West Yorkshire to London since March 2011.

British Airways has begun operating flights from Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) to Heathrow.

It is the first time direct flights have embarked from West Yorkshire to the capital since Flybe dropped its Gatwick service in March 2011.

Eight flights a day on 160-seater jets will operate between LBA and Heathrow with single fares starting at £42.

BA decided to make its move following what was described as "hard lobbying" by local businesses.

Analysis

Water cannon, champagne and plenty of back slapping marked the arrival of British Airways' first flight into Leeds Bradford airport for 32 years.

The return of links to the capital has been warmly received.

The flights will provide a real alternative to the East Coast Main Line, though the added time of getting to and from airports does give the train the edge in the speed race.

The real worth of these flights will be felt by exporters and businesses looking to attract inward investment into Yorkshire. After all, companies that fly halfway round the world don't want to have to trudge through the rest of Britain to get to their destination.

There are real possibilities here but other companies have tried to run this route before and given it up because of a lack of use.

It's estimated the BA flights could be worth £10m a year to Yorkshire's economy, but only if the planes that follow have more passengers than this morning's rather empty flight.

Leeds lawyer Chris Booth was one of those who led a campaign for the flights.

'Fingers crossed'

He said: "Everybody hopes this will work because if it does we all stand to gain - not only those in the Yorkshire region but those who are visiting the area as well, whether on a business or a leisure basis.

"So fingers crossed that it will work, and I genuinely think it will."

Tony Hallwood, the commercial director at Leeds Bradford Airport, said: "We believe there will be lots of support from our local businesses in the region for this.

"We have every intention of growing the number of flights. And British Airways have said that if the business is here they will deliver it."

The airport's chief executive John Parkin added: "This new service is a significant milestone for Leeds Bradford Airport.

"I urge businesses to take advantage of British Airways' global network to stimulate further economic growth for the Leeds city region."

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