AIRPORT bosses hope to appeal to North-East businesses’ global growth plans after agreeing a German deal, The Northern Echo can reveal.

Officials at Leeds Bradford Airport say the continuation of Dusseldorf flights can be a catalyst for greater commercial demand at the site thanks to the city’s status as a global business and financial centre.

Chief executive David Laws, formerly of Newcastle Airport, has also refused to rule out potential new domestic flights, as well as further routes to Germany, Italy and Scandinavia, as he embarks on improving the base’s offering to commercial and holiday passengers.

The airport has operated six-times-a-week Dusseldorf flights for a number of years alongside operator Jet2, which are mainly used by businesses, with leisure travellers adding to the traffic.

However, the carrier will stop flights on October 27, with Flybe, which already runs services to Belfast and Newquay from the site, taking over two days later.

Speaking to the Echo, Chris Sanders, the airport’s newlyappointed aviation development director, said bosses are delighted Flybe are stepping in to continue the route.

Mr Sanders, who was also previously at Newcastle Airport and is now focused on building the portfolio of services, airlines, routes and frequency at Leeds Bradford, added he hopes it will act as a sign of officials’ intent to strengthen flights and increase connectivity for businesses across the region.

He said: “Dusseldorf has been a route from this airport for a number of years, but Jet2 have decided to move their aircraft elsewhere.

“It is a business route but it appeals to all ages too.

“The move with Flybe coming in will ensure a seamless transition on the route and hopefully it will lead to more opportunities with them.

“This is a good airport but it can be even better.”

Mr Laws, who last year stepped down as chief executive at Newcastle Airport before taking on an advisory role with shareholder AMP Capital, previously told the Echo he aims to replicate the success he enjoyed at the North Tyneside base, which included bolstering European and international services.

The former fireman has grand plans to improve Leeds Bradford’s terminal and take passenger numbers towards the five million mark in the short-term, saying he hopes to increase choice for people living across County Durham and Teesside.

However, he has played down suggestions he will be taking passengers off his former employer, saying that the two bases can continue operating successfully, highlighting road improvements, particularly those being carried out on the A1, as crucial supporting factors in giving holidaymakers easier access.

Replying to suggestions he could create increased competition for Newcastle, he said: “Why would I want to do that? I spent 35 years-plus of my life there.

“My competition is from Manchester and we have got to start looking at why people are going there.

“A strong Leeds Bradford is good for passengers.

“What a great position to be in (if you live in County Durham or Teesside); you can turn left or right and you will have a good choice.

“Yorkshire goes all the way up to Yarm, people are going to be spoilt for choice.

“Newcastle will continue to develop and if we can get Leeds Bradford to come out of the shadows, everyone will be delighted.”