Birmingham Airport’s chief executive has told a Government minister he can boost business in the regions by simply re-designating city airports.
Paul Kehoe argued that by making Birmingham Aiport, and others such as Manchester, as national airports they would begin to lever in more direct flights and more inward investment.
He said that currently Government and civil servants regard the country’s airports as feeding a single major hub at Heathrow and this message is picked up abroad.
But recently other airports have begun to expand direct long-haul services, such as the recent increase of direct services between Birmingham and India.
The airport boss was speaking at a Conservative Party fringe event, where he shared the platform with transport minister Robert Goodwill.
The meeting heard that business travellers from the regions are as likely to use Schiphol or Frankfurt airports for long haul connections as they are Heathrow.
Mr Kehoe said: “All it would take is for Government to recognise that there is a network of national airports in this country - not just city airports feeding the hub at Heathrow.
“Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle could become national airports for the UK. It would cost nothing, but with this encouragement we could go on an achieve so much more.”
Mr Kehoe also pushed the case for the proposed HS2 interchange station next to the airport and NEC to be officially named Birmingham Airport station.
Mr Kehoe added: “Birmingham has ambitions of being a global city and is almost there, it has all the ingredients, but we need to push the transport agenda.”
Transport minister Mr Goodwill said that his Government had taken a brave decision to maintain infrastructure funding, including the £50 billion pledged for HS2, despite the cuts elsewhere in public spending.
He pointed out that there has also been £38 billion invested in rail and £24 billion in the highways network.
He said that roads remain a headache with up to 180 different highways authorities running the UK’s network and this may need looking at.
“It is vitally important that we improve the connectivity between our great cities,” he said.
On the subject of the calling the HS2 interchange station Birmingham Airport station, Mr Goodwill said that every time he speaks on HS2 someone raises it. “It’s getting a bit boring now, so we are going to have to do something soon to stop that happening,” he joked.