Left to right; Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport CEO, Lee Rushbrooke, Chief Executive - Colas, Des Steadman, MD Civil Engineering - VolkerFitzpatrick, Will Heynes, Development Director - Birmingham Airport and Chris Sedman, Project Director - VolkerFitzpatrick Colas.
Birmingham Airport has officially marked the start of its runway extension development, which will see the existing runway length increase to 3,003 metres and give aircraft unlimited range from the Midlands.
By extending the existing runway by 405 metres, aircraft will be able to take off from Birmingham with more fuel and fly direct to destinations currently out of reach, such as China, South America, South Africa and the West Coast of the USA.
The development, opening in early 2014, will generate spare long haul capacity in the region and help to take cars off the road, saving thousands of unnecessary surface journeys each year.
Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s CEO, explained, “The strong economic profile of the Midlands means that businesses are crying out for direct connectivity from their local airport so it makes no sense that 3.3 million passengers from the West Midlands last year flew from airports in the South East, adding congestion on the roads and at Heathrow, which is already 99.2% full.
“Redirecting this traffic back to the Midlands would release high value, long-haul capacity at London airports and boost the UK’s trading potential.
“We have plenty of spare capacity at Birmingham now. Our passenger numbers could double from the current nine million a year to eighteen million today, and the runway extension will allow us to increase beyond thirty six million in future years.
“Our passenger growth could create in excess of 243,000 jobs in the region according to a new report by the West Midlands Economic Forum. Making greater use of the spare capacity at airports across the country will help generate sustainable long-term economic growth and help to rebalance the UK economy.”
With the runway extension opening up so many new long-haul route opportunities from Birmingham, the Airport is actively talking to existing and new airlines to explore new markets and routes from the Midlands. A new team of route development experts and a trade sales team have been employed by the company to ensure that the Airport is represented globally at key trade events and meetings, and it is working with local brands such as MG Motors and JLR to help develop relationships with key overseas markets.
The Company has also been lobbying the UK government to assign ‘National Airport’ status to key gateways to UK markets. For instance, Birmingham, as a National Airport, would be recognised as the gateway at the heart of UK manufacturing.
Such an endorsement would help the Airport to encourage new routes, by demonstrating Government’s commitment to the whole of the UK’s long-term aviation strategy.
On behalf of government, an independent commission has been tasked with reviewing all options for future UK airport capacity. The utilisation of spare capacity which is available immediately at regional airports such as Birmingham, is regarded by many not only as a pragmatic solution, but as a way of encouraging greater growth and resilience in the UK economy.
The runway extension will be wholly funded by the Airport Company at a cost of £33 million. In addition, the Airport is making a further investment of £13 million for the construction of a new air traffic control tower and radar system, which will be operational in early 2013, plus £9m on resurfacing the entire runway.
A dedicated website about the runway extension scheme is available at www.hellomoreworld.co.uk