Birmingham Airport is sponsoring the export category at this year’s Birmingham Post Business Awards, which will celebrate the great and good of the region’s private sector in the past 12 months. Here, the airport looks back at its own last year in business
It has been an exciting period of growth for Birmingham Airport over the past 12 months, as it looks to build the foundations for a bright and prosperous future.
During a crucial time for the UK aviation industry as a whole, the Airport has seen a number of high-profile infrastructure projects get off the ground, welcomed new airlines and seen a steady increase in the number of passengers flying from Birmingham.
The Airport has also unveiled its long-term vision for growth to the Airports Commission, which is currently examining the need for additional UK airport capacity on behalf of the Government.
Birmingham currently handles nine million passengers per year, but this vision supports growth of up to 70 million passengers, as well as boosting global connectivity and creating over a quarter of a million new jobs in the Midlands region.
With the Airport’s excellent transport links and capacity for 36 million passengers using its current infrastructure, Birmingham has been arguing to the Commission that it can offer much-needed capacity in the short-term and play a part in the long-term strategy too.
Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham Airport, said: “Great cities like Birmingham deserve great airports. In twenty 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.
“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.”
This vision for growth has the support of the Midlands’ business community too. Birmingham’s catchment area has the largest share of manufacturing activity in the UK, as well as a specialist economy with high-value sectors including transport, automotive, aerospace, machinery and military equipment.
Steve Brittan, MD of BSA Machine Tools, said: “Currently we have to fly via European hubs to connect with our customers that are located globally in Asia and the Americas.
“These difficulties can put off overseas customers visiting our plant in Birmingham so it would be a tremendous benefit, and put Birmingham on the international map, if Birmingham Airport could cater for long-haul point to point services.”
A significant part of Birmingham Airport’s vision for the future, as well as its short-term strategy, is the extension of its current runway. Extending the runway to 3,003 metres will mean aircraft can carry more fuel and fly further, bringing new long-haul destinations within direct range for the first time.
With work on the runway extension due to be complete in spring 2014, routes to cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Bangkok, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Johannesburg will cater to both business and leisure travellers, removing the need to journey outside the region before flying.
Complimenting the runway extension, during the past 12 months the Airport has also undertaken an ambitious redevelopment programme including the construction of a new state-of-the-art air traffic control tower and primary radar system. This cutting-edge navigation equipment represents an investment worth over £12 million and will benefit the Airport for many years to come.
Construction of a new 110,000 sq. ft Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL) maintenance facility is due to be completed towards the end of 2013, which further demonstrates the enormous strides the Airport has taken over the past year.
Creating 300 jobs for the region, it is the first UK hangar to have the capacity for Boeing 787 Dreamliner maintenance and will also have sufficient capacity for other wide body aircraft, such as the Boeing 777, 747 and Airbus A350.
The Airport has continued this programme of investment with the purchase of five brand new fire fighting vehicles. Reinforcing its commitment to passenger safety, the five ‘striker’ vehicles will change the way the Airport’s fire-fighters tackle aircraft fires, by providing greater fire suppression, safety and versatility to maximise emergency response.
The Airport’s success over the past 12 months has not been limited to extending the runway or investing in world-class facilities. Birmingham has also welcomed a host of new airlines, including the much anticipated arrival of Air India.
The new service operates four times weekly to Delhi and Amritsar using the Boeing 787-8 ‘Dreamliner’ aircraft, making Birmingham only the second UK airport to operate dedicated Boeing 787 scheduled services.
Bmi regional started flying from Birmingham earlier this year, followed by the continued expansion of other airlines, including Monarch, Aer Lingus and Turkish Airlines, who increased their daily flight programme from seven to ten flights weekly to Istanbul and beyond.
During this period of growth and sustained progress, great customer service has underpinned everything the Airport has achieved. Demonstrating the Airport’s commitment to its passengers, this summer saw the introduction of a fun and interactive children’s adventure called Sky Side.
The Sky Side initiative, exclusive to Birmingham Airport, has been designed to improve family facilities inside the terminal, giving youngsters jetting off on holiday a unique and engaging experience at the Airport before they fly.
With £260 million invested in the Airport over the past 10 years, and a further £100 million committed to future development plans including the runway extension and its associated infrastructure, Birmingham Airport has its eyes fixed firmly on the future.
- To book tables at the Birmingham Post Business Awards visit bpbusinessawards.co.uk