A campaign to bring millions of new passengers to Birmingham Airport has taken its message to the heart of Government , as airport chief executive Paul Kehoe spoke at a Commons reception.

He was launching a new report urging Ministers to reject calls for a new runway at London’s Heathrow Airport. Instead, he urged them to let regional airports take the strain, with Birmingham leading the way.

The event in a Commons committee room, organised by the airport and backed by Midland MPs, was the latest stage in a long-running battle on the future of UK aviation.

Business leaders in London are pushing the Government to let Heathrow build a third runway while London Mayor Boris Johnson has mooted a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

But regional airports including Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh argue they already have spare capacity and allowing them to expand would provide a major economic boost to the country.

Birmingham currently serves nine million passengers a year but once a new runway extension is completed it could serve 27 million.

However, it says it needs Government backing – including a firm pledge that there will be no third runway at Heathrow.

Mr Kehoe said: "We have a Government which is set on rebalancing the economy, and we have fantastic airports around the country with the spare capacity to deliver this growth. It is illogical that we are still trying to channel all traffic through the South East, which will only serve to reinforce the imbalance within the economy."