Birmingham business leaders are hopeful that the city’s airport will be one of the major winners when a new draft policy on aviation policy is published next March.
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group (BCCG), together with its independent transport policy body, the West Midlands Business Transport Group, have demanded that Birmingham Airport is made a priority when the policy is announced.
The Chamber is pushing the airport’s case as it meets all the criteria demanded by the aviation policy, which is meant to provide the framework for a sustainable strategy which will last the UK for decades to come.
It is expected that the framework will be adopted by 2013. If the Chamber’s recommendations are adopted, future aviation policy will support the growth of Birmingham Airport, which will put it in a position to take some of the pressure from London’s crowded airports, particularly Heathrow.
Ross Gurdin, policy advisor at BCCG, said that since Heathrow had been refused permission to build a third runway, Birmingham Airport had emerged as a strong contender to fill any gap in demand.
The Midland airport’s case had been strengthened by plans for the HS2 high-speed train line, which, when built, would make it quicker to get to Birmingham from some parts of London than it would to get to busy Heathrow.
“Birmingham Airport is continually expanding its direct range of flights to more and more countries making it a better option for businesses,” said Mr Gurdin.
“Centred in the heart of the UK and with lots of spare capacity, businesses will find it easier to access markets in the Far East and West Coast of America. Currently business travellers have to fly from Heathrow or have to change flights.
“When it is built, high speed rail will mean it is as easy to travel from London to Birmingham Airport as it is to travel from parts of London to Heathrow.
“We urge the Department of Transport to prioritise Birmingham and recognise the huge impact that aviation plays in the West Midlands economy.
“The airport currently only serves 40 per cent of travellers but there is a huge potential for it to grow and we must ensure it does if we are to reap the benefits of having such an excellent asset on our doorstep.”
Birmingham Airport is already committed to expanding its facilities, including lengthening the runway. The extension is due to open in 2014.