Further Developments to Accommodate Passenger Growth
On March 3rd 2000, Her Majesty, The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, officially opened a £40 million terminal development, which provided a two-storey arrivals concourse linking the two passenger terminals for the first time, and a new pier with three glass-sided air bridges, 16 new check-in desks, a new baggage reclaim hall with 6 carousels, 12 new catering and retail outlets, and new Customs and Immigration halls.
In December 2001 Macquarie Airports Group Limited acquired Bridgepoint Capital Limited shares. As a result, the proportion of shareholding in the Airport Company, up until September 2007 was as follows: Seven West Midlands' District Councils 49%; Aer Rianta 24.125%; Macquarie Airports Group 24.125%. The remaining 2.75% takes the form of an Employee Share Trust.
Continuing its commitment to provide its passengers with greater facilities and easier access via public transport, Birmingham Airport opened the £11 million Air-Rail Link people mover system and the £7 million public transport Interchange in March 2003. Birmingham was the first airport in the world, and the only location in Europe to feature the Air-Rail Link, an Austrian-built cable-driven system, that has been operating successfully in Las Vegas since 1999. Its two trains, each consist of two carriages and can carry up to 1600 people per hour between the rail station and passenger terminals with a journey time of just 90 seconds. On arrival at the rail station, passengers step into Birmingham International Interchange, a two-storey public transport facility, which makes the transfer between all modes of transport even easier.
Government White Paper
More that 9 million people were using Birmingham Airport in December 2003, and at this time Birmingham was identified as the preferred location for growth in the Midlands in the Government’s White Paper, “The Future of Air Transport”. Although the Government suggested that Birmingham would need a new short wide spaced runway and an extension to the existing runway by 2030, Birmingham Airport’s Management reviewed these proposals. It concluded, in its 2007 Master Plan, ‘Towards 2030, Planning a Sustainable Future for Air Transport in the Midlands’, that that the Airport would not require a second runway before 2030 but an extension to the existing runway, is the main priority for Birmingham Airport.
In September 2007 Macquarie Airports Group and Aer Rianta sold their 48.25% in the Airport to the ‘Airport Group Investments Ltd’ (AGIL) for £420 million. AGIL is a limited company owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Victorian Funds Management Corporation. The current shareholding arrangement is as follows: Seven West Midlands district councils (49%), Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Australia's Victorian Funds Management Corporation (48.25%) and the Employee Share Trust (2.75%).
Following the extensive consultations that were held on the expansion of Birmingham Airport’s runway a Planning Application was submitted to Solihull Metropolitan Council in January 2007 to extend the runway by 400 metres which would enable the airport to reach the West Coast of America, South America, the Far East and South Africa. On 15th December 2008, Solihull MBC’s Planning Committee unanimously supported the Application subject to agreeing appropriate mitigation measures to provide protection and reassurance for local people and the wider environment.
To handle future growth and aspirations to reach all corners of the globe the Airport embarked on a £45 million state-of-the-art extension to Terminal One in June 2007. The new 'International Pier' replaced the current out-dated facility constructed in 1984. It is the single biggest investment that the Airport has made in over 20 years.
The new Pier is a three storey construction; 240 metres long and 24 metres wide. Departing passengers are accommodated on the top level, with arriving passengers on the middle level and office accommodation for airline and handling agents on the ground floor. This provides air-bridged aircraft parking for seven wide-bodied aircraft and enough space to serve 13 smaller aircraft at any given time. The Pier also provides vertical segregation to separate inbound and outbound passenger traffic, in line with national security requirements. New gate lounges for passengers have also been created.
By the end of 2008, some 9.6 million people use Birmingham Airport and the future looks very bright. However, only 30% of the Airport’s catchment uses Birmingham in favour of taking flights from other UK airports so it is the Airport’s desire to expand the range of services available from Birmingham, by expanding the runway, and giving the region’s business and leisure travellers the choice they want.
Nevertheless, the Airport’s Management are mindful that any growth needs to be achieved sensibly and sustainable to protect the local and global environment against its operation. The Airport has a good track of being a good neighbour and any permitted growth will be subject to stringent planning obligations.