Perhaps it's no great surprise that some of Britain's airlines are urging the Government to increase aviation capacity in the south, and particularly at Heathrow.

To an extent, they have already nailed their colours to the mast. British Airways in particular has decided that its future lies at Heathrow rather than at airports in other parts of the country, such as Birmingham.

But they are wrong to take such a narrow minded view of the future of Britain's aviation industry.

Nobody denies that foreign governments and airlines are attracted to airports in or around London. This is one of the points Birmingham itself has raised.

And it is hard to convince overseas operators that obtaining slots at airports in the North or Midlands is a viable substitute.

This matters to British operators because they struggle to obtain slots at airports overseas if those operators and their governments don't believe they are being offered a fair deal by the UK.

But while the problem is a real one, the solution offered by the airlines is wrong.

They seem to think the problem can be solved by expanding Heathrow - an airport which is going to require not one but two new runways, if it really is to be the answer to the UK's capacity problems.

In reality, the solution has to involve making better use of airports in other parts of the country, such as Birmingham.

These airports have spare capacity which is not being used. And they serve areas of the country which urgently need new investment and international links.

It is indeed a challenge to market these airports overseas and to present them as a real alternative to London or Gatwick. That's one of the reasons why Birmingham Airport is calling for government support.

But the truth is that expanding Heathrow - or building a new hub airport in the south - also poses significant challenges. There is enormous opposition to a new runway at Heathrow, and it's probably reasonable to assume that there would be opposition to a new airport too, as soon as any firm proposals were drawn up.

The question is whether you simply accept the status quo or have any faith in the ability of government to change it.

Yes, airlines overseas may assume that Heathrow is the place to be.

But they are not stupid, and they are motivated by a desire to do business, not prejudice against any part of the UK.

Birmingham can offer them everything they need including rail services into the heart of London. Passengers travel to and from the Midlands, as well as the capital. And an airport in Birmingham is far more attractive to potential customers living in the north, or Scotland, than the prospect of a long journey to Heathrow.

The blandishments of British Airways and Virgin, fine companies though they are, are flawed and should not be allowed to dictate Britain's aviation policy.