AIR passengers are turning their backs on Leeds-Bradford Airport because of its poor transport links, a Government minister has admitted.

Robert Goodwill, the Scarborough and Whitby MP, said his constituents preferred to fly from Manchester Airport – even though it was much further away.

Replying in a Commons debate on problems getting to and from at the airport, the transport minister said he was “well aware” of the need for improvements.

He told MPs: “My own constituents tell me it is more convenient to use Manchester Airport because there is an express transpennine service through Leeds.

“They can get on a train in Scarborough and get off that train in the terminal at Manchester Airport.”

The comments will raise hopes that the Government is ready to fund better links, in a ‘mini Budget’ in early December that will focus on transport.

However, the minister offered no hints as to whether road or rail routes were more likely, saying a study due “shortly” was considering “all modes of transport”.

Leading the debate, Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew upped the stakes by arguing only “a three-year-old child” would settle for a new road – which could make congestion worse.

The Conservative backbencher said rail spurs to Horsforth (costing about £50 million) and to Harrogate (£25-30m) were the answer - with the potential for direct trains to Bradford in the future.

Mr Andrew said: “This would mean that a journey time of as little as nine minutes would be possible from the centre of Leeds

“I realise this is a considerable amount of money but, if we are serious about connecting the North, it would be perverse in the extreme not to link one of the region’s largest airports to that network.”

Describing a road as “the easy option” – and pointing to high-speed rail plans for Leeds - Mr Andrew said: “Even a three year old child would not come up with such a hare-brained scheme.”

The MP pointed out that a Government report as long ago as 2003 had highlighted how Leeds-Bradford Airport would need better transport as it grew.

But, he said: “All we have really seen has been some improved signalling at some of the most congested local junctions and some increased bus services.”

Chancellor George Osborne has said he is ready to fund viable transport proposals as part of his plans to for a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ of better-connected cities across the Pennines.