Midland business leaders have accused the Airports Commission of issuing a ‘sticking plaster’ report into UK air travel after rejecting expansion of Birmingham Airport.
Birmingham’s business community said a ‘huge opportunity’ for economic growth in the West Midlands had been put on ice after the Airports Commission rejected immediate growth of the region’s airport .
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce chief executive Jerry Blackett said: “While the decision not to shortlist Birmingham for expansion is disappointing, there are a number of important positives.
“We regret that the report does not examine the critically important role of aviation in supporting the rebalancing on the UK away from the existing and unsustainable reliance on London and the south-east.
“Cities like Birmingham are poised to grow dramatically and we need direct flights to the growth economies.
“In focusing on aviation supply in London and the south-east, the report looks like a sticking plaster job only for the UK economy as a whole.
“However, it’s now important that we work on the positive elements of the report and one of the bonuses for Birmingham is that it identifies the importance of surface connections to the future for airports.
“The rejection of a dominant hub is massively helpful to Birmingham, as it makes clear that the future cannot all be run through a Heathrow or a Gatwick.
“The report has not ruled out a second runway at Birmingham Airport by 2050.
“This is very consistent with how we see the future for Birmingham Airport, with the next 15 years being all about strong incremental growth from the extended runway and great existing facilities.”
But Birmingham Airport chief executive Paul Kehoe said: “Our hard work has paid off.
“Birmingham Airport has today been recognised as an integral piece of the long-term aviation puzzle, supporting the growth of aviation links across the UK, which is a positive step forward for the Midlands economy.”