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Changing perceptions of Birmingham

Birmingham Airport

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to provide insight on the findings of the Birmingham Economic Review.

The Birmingham Economic Review 2019 is produced by the University of Birmingham’s City-REDI and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, with contributions from the West Midlands Growth Company. It is an in-depth exploration of the economy of England’s second city and is a high quality resource for organisations seeking to understand Birmingham to inform research, policy or investment decisions.

This post is featured in the full Birmingham Economic Review 2019 and the Summary Review. These are available here.

There’s an undeniable buzz around the region, perhaps because we’re gearing up for the Coventry City of Culture in 2021, the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022 or the arrival of HS2. It’s also because everywhere you look, there are signs of investment, and this creates opportunities for local people, business and the region as a whole.

It feels like Birmingham is going through a modern-day renaissance, where more and more people are relocating here to study, live and work – finding a better and a more affordable quality of life for themselves and their families.

There’s an excitement at Birmingham Airport too as we embark on our Master Plan. Published in June, together with our Surface Access Strategy, we set out our vision of how the airport will play its part in the continuing regional success story.

Through an investment programme of £500m, we plan to increase passenger numbers from the current 13m to 18m per annum by 2033 and increase our economic benefit from £1.5bn to £2.1bn annually. And all this can be achieved within our current boundary and existing runway, which is in line with re-stated government policy for making use of existing runway capacity.

The first phase of the master plan focuses on a terminal transformation where we will invest around £170m on a terminal transformation over the next three years. This includes the extension of the departure lounge to create more circulation space, seating, toilets, retail and catering outlets, along with an enlarged and modernised check-in hall.  Later phases will see the extension of the security and arrivals areas, as well as new baggage systems, aircraft stands and a link to the HS2 Interchange Station; a game changer for the UK Central Hub.

We are fully financing this expansion to help secure wider public benefits of connectivity and employment growth, whilst underpinning the region’s current bourgeoning economic performance. Our ambition matches the region’s vigour, which is attracting employers, such as Jaguar Land Rover, HSBC and Deutche Bank, and driving high growth sectors in advanced manufacturing and engineering, life sciences and renewable energy. Our communities are seeing the benefit with average earnings increasing and unemployment falling.

The creation of the West Midlands Combined Authority, the arrival of HS2 and international events already mentioned promise to further boost the awareness and appeal of the region – and we at the airport will continue to work collaboratively to take this story overseas as we attract more services to the region.

Today we have 50 airlines flying to more than 150 direct destinations and a further 340 one-stop global connections.  We link through hubs including Paris, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam, Zurich, Frankfurt, Munich, Istanbul, Doha, Dubai and Copenhagen.

We provide easy access to a wide range of exciting holiday destinations and serve as a gateway for inbound tourism and overseas students studying at our universities.

Looking ahead, we will continue to adapt our aviation strategy to take account of developments in the regional and UK economy. We will focus on which countries grow as key trading partners and which are the most popular leisure destinations.  We aim to build an even bigger route network to serve our Region.

Our key priorities are direct long-haul services to the key growth markets of the Indian sub-continent and China, and North Atlantic routes, particularly with the emergence of low-cost long-haul operators.

We are also pushing to attract more choice, connectivity and frequency to European cities and the Middle East, increasing frequency on established routes to offer more choice to passengers.

We must do this whilst continuing to invest, develop and deliver a great customer experience, not just most of the time, but all the time. It’s also vital that we grow sustainably and consciously, and we are developing a sustainability strategy now to see how we can reduce our carbon footprint in the future.

As we look forward, we must not forget where we have come from and this is very poignant as we celebrate our 80th Anniversary this year. Over these eight decades, we’ve served the region well and now we will continue to work in collaboration with our regional stakeholders to deliver the service, connectivity, capacity and growth in a responsible and sustainable way to ensure that our future surpasses the success of our past.

Nikki Bains
Planning manager
Birmingham Airport