Birmingham Airport has joined forces with a coalition of business leaders to unveil plans that enable it to grow and help create a quarter of a million Midland jobs in the process.
Its vision, which has been formally endorsed by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, the Black Country LEP and the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, supports growth of up to 70 million passengers each year and up to 500,000 air transport movements from an expanded facility.
The airport’s plan supports the development of a business park for the Midlands manufacturing sector alongside the expanded site, and one of Europe’s biggest conference centres at the NEC.
The airport’s long-term vision is a response to questions asked by the Airports Commission, which is examining the need for additional UK airport capacity and will recommend to government how this can be met in the short, medium and long-term.
Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham Airport, said great cities like Birmingham deserve great airports.
“In 20 years’ time British air travel will double and it is widely acknowledged that all the country’s long-haul traffic cannot be routed through one airport in West London,” he said.
“Instead, we believe that the best thing for UK aviation is to create a network of long-haul national airports, each supporting the comparative economic advantages of that region to boost trade, foreign investment and tourism.”
A high proportion of the country’s potential demand for business air travel comes from the Midlands catchment area, which is home to half a million businesses, 6.5 million employees and specialises in high-value manufacturing sectors.
The Airport’s vision is for London, Birmingham and Manchester to all have the great long-haul airports that they need to succeed, whilst at the same time providing flexibility and resilience for the UK aviation sector.
The network proposal excludes expansion at Heathrow because that would expose too many people living in West London to unacceptable noise pollution. However, the network complements a new mega-hub in the South East or a more dispersed model.
With central transport links, long-haul runway and spare capacity for 27 million passengers, Birmingham Airport has been arguing to the Commission that it can offer much-needed capacity in the short-term. This recent announcement gives Birmingham the ability to play its part in the long-term strategy too.
Mark Garnier MP (Conservativ, Wyre Forest), chair of the West Midlands APPG said: “A global travel hub at Birmingham Airport will bring long-haul air-travel to within one hour of the airport for 45 million people by 2032 when the HS2 network is fully operational. This will make it the most accessible airport in Britain.”
Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council believes the vision will help bring trade and prosperity for Britain’s industrial base in the Midlands, just as Heathrow has helped the high-tech concentration along the ‘M4 corridor’ and helped support the global position of The City.
Jerry Blackett, chief executive of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce said: “At a time of our manufacturing renaissance, it makes no sense for business people to traipse to London to travel to major markets overseas. To succeed, our business people need direct, convenient flights to visit suppliers and clients in major new markets like China and India.”