Birmingham International Airport should focus all its energies on bringing forward a planned runway extension in time for the London Olympic Games in 2012, according to a leading business organisation.
The Institute of Directors is urging airport management to put on ice any thoughts of a second runway and concentrate instead on increasing the length of the existing runway.
John James, chairman of the IoD in the West Midlands, said discussions on the economic case for a second runway, which in any event was unlikely to be built within the next 20 years, were distracting and risked clouding the issue.
A longer runway was essential in order for BIA to operate non-stop long haul flights to emerging markets in China and India, he said.
Mr James said: "The business community needs to get behind the airport board and support its bid to secure the long term future of air transport in the region.
"What we need is planning approval for the main runway extension now and we support the seven district councils who have called for the work to be brought forward from 2015 to 2012 in time for the London Olympics."
Mr James said that with Milton Keynes scheduled to triple in size in the next two decades, it was vital the West Midlands had an airport with long haul capability.
"We know that the key growth economies in the first half of the 21st Century will be India and China and we must be able to reach them from the West Midlands without refuelling stops, or the need for passengers to change flights.
"Otherwise we will find ourselves in a global economic hinterland, a second rate region always outshone by the North-west via Manchester Airport and the South-east via Heathrow and Gatwick.
"Time will tell how critical it will be for our businesses to be able to reach Indian and Chinese markets, but I believe it to be one of the most crucial factors in whether the West Midlands achieves its economic potential or not in the next two decades," said Mr James.
Public consultation on BIA's plans concludes on March 31 and Mr James said this was why the IoD was issuing a call to all business interests to rally behind the airport board's plans.
"The extension of the runway is a key plank in the infrastructure we need to grow the West Midlands economy, bring in thousands of new jobs and secure the future of many thousands of existing jobs," he added.