Dozens of jobs are set to be cut at Birmingham International Airport after passenger numbers dropped in the wake of the economic downturn.

About 45 jobs are to go from the airport’s 690-strong workforce as the financial turbulence made people cancel holiday plans and cut down on foreign travel. And it said it did not expect the decline in travel to be reversed until 2011 at the earliest.

A spokesman for the airport said summer travellers were set to fall even further this year as the recession took its toll on the tourism sector. He said: “The airport company has entered into a 30-day period of consultation with its workforce, with the aim of reducing costs and delivering efficiencies.

“The proposals do not affect frontline safety or security. Since 2006 the airport has invested significantly in security facilities and employed an additional 90 security staff.

“The airport company is not immune from the current global economic downturn. Our passenger numbers are reduced and no growth is forecast until 2011.

“This is only the second time this has happened in two decades and will significantly impact on both aeronautical and commercial income.

“This is illustrated by predicted activity levels for this summer season when we will witness passenger numbers lower than the previous year.

“It is therefore imperative that the airport responds to these market changes and aligns its services and costs with these lower levels of activity to ensure that we remain competitive.”

The day before the job cuts were announced, the airport’s business development director Peter Vella, announced he would be leaving the airport after almost 12 years to “pursue new business opportunities”.

The well-known business figure left just months after Joe Kelly, who was acting managing director after the death of former airport chief Richard Heard, was appointed as a new director.

Mr Vella said: “The last 12 years have been very enjoyable and I am proud to have been part of the team that has helped the business to grow and develop into one of the best regional airports in Europe.

“I am also particularly pleased that our efforts have been so well recognised by the airline community through our frequent success in either winning or being highly commended at the OAG airport marketing awards at the annual routes conferences. In addition our commercial business has developed into a very strong, comprehensive and well designed offer that is often commented on internationally.”

Paul Kehoe, the airport’s chief executive, added: “I have only worked with Peter for five months but during that time he has given me great support as I have settled in to the business. I respect his decision to move on after a successful 12 year stint as business development director.”

Mr Kehoe predicted in February that there would be no growth at the airport in the next few years, and said it was likely to miss its target of reaching 18 million passengers by 2017.

He said the airport had not seen as much of a downturn as some other airports in the UK and still needed to press ahead with plans to extend the runway.