Airport breaks night flying rules two years running

Night flights are the most intrusive form of aircraft noise and there is clear evidence that they harm both the physical and mental health of residents who live under flightpaths.

Because night flights are so harmful to health, there is a cap on the number of night flights that Leeds Bradford Airport is allowed to fly. This cap is part of its operating conditions and it is not allowed to fly more than 2,920 flights night flights across the whole summer season.

Since 2022, GALBA has independently monitored night flights at Leeds Bradford Airport and revealed that the airport is blatantly breaching the operating conditions agreed with Leeds City Council...

The airport has a responsibility to report monthly statistics of night flights to the council.  

This reporting includes type of aircraft, plus the numbers of, and reasons for, delayed landings, as well as any emergency departures and landings.

It is Leeds City Council’s job to enforce the operating conditions – and to ensure that the airport does not fly more than 2,920 night flights each summer. 

In addition to the airport’s own reporting, GALBA independently monitors live data of commercial night flights to and from the airport.

In 2022 and 2023 there was a significant discrepancy between the number of night flights the airport is allowed to operate and what GALBA recorded.

As a result, the airport was issued with a ‘breach of condition’ enforcement notice for exceeding the permitted number of night flights in the 2022 summer season.

However, even though the council agreed with GALBA that LBA had broken the same rules again in 2023, the council has decided to do nothing about it. That is scandalous!

The airport’s night flight breaches are huge!

In October 2022, we reported our findings to Leeds City Council who validated our data and discovered that the airport had exceeded the night flights quota for that summer by a whopping 747 flights. That equates to 25% of the whole of the summer season’s night flights.

In the 2023 summer season, the airport exceeded the night flights quota for by 577 flights. That equates to 16% of the whole of the summer season’s night flights.

“Last summer was a nightmare for me, with incredibly loud noise from flights starting at 6am and going on till 3 or 4 the following morning"

The 2022 and 2023 breaches reveal a concerning lack of transparency in the airport’s relationship with the council and with its own Airport Consultative Committee.

Prior to our discovery of the airport’s night flight condition breach, the airport regularly reported night flight data to its Airport Consultative Committee meetings. However, this reporting mysteriously stopped in September 2022 – the same time that GALBA submitted its first complaint to the council.

It was also highly worrying to discover that there was a significant difference between the figures submitted to the Airport Consultative Committee, and by extension, the council, and the actual number of night flights flown, as revealed by GALBA.

Vincent Hodder, the CEO of the airport, went on local news and said it was an accident. He said he was very sorry and it wouldn’t happen again.

Alarmed by the fact that he claimed it was an accident, implying that the airport’s systems were unable to accurately report on arrivals and departures, GALBA continued to monitor the night flights. The result for 2023 was almost a carbon copy of the overrun detected in 2022.

Now Mr Hodder is on record at a recent Airport Consultative Committee meeting saying that the airport intends to fly 3607 night flights in 2024 (687 more than the allowance), however he claims that many of the flights do not count towards the night time allowance so the airport will not be breaking the rules. But the airport’s interpretation of the rules makes no sense and has not been agreed by Leeds City Council planning department. For further information on the disputed interpretation of the night time flying rules, see Why Leeds Bradford Airport must count ALL night flights.

In fact, the airport’s attempted re-interpretation is subject a CLEUD application. So until the council rules on this CLEUD application, the airport is operating in breach of the conditions yet again in 2024. GALBA expects Leeds City Council to reject the CLEUD application. Let’s hope that the Council’s planning officers take some firm action this time.

GALBA will continue to hold the airport to account until it proves it can be trusted on night flying

GALBA’s monitoring of the airport’s commercial night flying is robust and accurate.  If you want to find out more about what we are doing and why it matters – please click on the links below.

More information about our night flights campaign.

More information on the airport’s attempts to operate more night flights via the CLEUD process.

More information about how aviation noise is measured.

More information about the night flight planning conditions.

Leeds Bradford Airport is big enough already