A grant of #25 million has been made available to kickstart the #120 million runway extension at Birmingham International Airport.
The money, awarded by the regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, was welcomed by the business and political leaders as a boost to the economic development of the region.
The cash will be used to add 400 metres to the runway and allow longer range jumbo jets to use the airport and allow non-stop flight links to China and India.
The remainder of the money is expected to come from the airport's owners – the seven West Midlands councils which own 49 per cent of the airport – and any potential future private sector owners.
The ownership of the airport has been thrown in doubt in recent weeks with Australian bank Macquarie and Dublin Airport Authority – which together own 48.25 per cent – wanting to exit.
Birmingham City Council is trying to persuade the other districts to join it in mounting a bid for a controlling interest in the airport, which has a book value of #260 million.
Infrastructure improvements – including a tunnel for the A45 to go under the extended runway and improved transport links – will be part of the redevelopment if a successful application is received.