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Creating opportunities for Solihull

Birmingham Airport

This blog post has been produced for the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce to provide insight on the findings of our new publication Doing Business in Solihull: An Economic Snapshot.

Doing Business in Solihull: An Economic Snapshot is produced by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce policy team. It offers an introduction to the local economy and business community within Solihull. The report is sponsored by Prime Accountants Group , one of the West Midland’s leading independent firms of chartered accountants, forensic accountants, business and financial advisors.

This post is featured in the full report here.

As the arrival of High-Speed Rail rapidly approaches, and the region prepares for the Coventry City of Culture in 2021 and Commonwealth Games in 2022, one might say that the West Midlands is going through a modern-day renaissance.

For Solihull, and indeed Birmingham Airport, these exciting times create significant opportunities and require regional collaboration in order to truly maximise both the long and short-term gains that will derive for local people and business.

As one of the region’s largest employers and primary airport in the Midlands, Birmingham Airport is an important asset for Solihull, supporting employment for 31,000 people and providing connectivity to some 400 direct and one-stop global destinations.

In a more devolved economy, we recognise that the airport plays a critical role in the Midlands region and we have made a significant investment in recent years to grow our route network and facilities for customers. We are now committed to delivering longer-term plans that enhance the airport even further to become one of the best regional airports in Europe.

Released last November, following an extensive period of regional engagement, our draft Master Plan, ‘The Midlands Gateway to the World’, looks 15 years ahead and sets out our vision for 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.

Work on a terminal transformation has begun and 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 security and arrivals areas, as well as new baggage systems, aircraft stands and a link to the HS2 Interchange Station.

The Master Plan has been developed in consultation with all our stakeholders, including the seven metropolitan councils, the Combined Authority, Midlands Engine, Midlands Connect and Transport for West Midlands. Importantly, it was vital to ensure the future success of the UK Central area and we have been liaising closely with other regional partners, including JLR, NEC, UGC and HS2 to align plans. This engagement and collaboration has given our regional stakeholders a clear view on our future vision so that they can build it into theirs, particularly around transport infrastructure.

In fact, to coincide with the release of the Master Plan, we published a new Surface Access Strategy, which outlines how we will build on our superb position as one of the most accessible airports in the UK. We are committed to developing integrated and sustainable transport for our customer and employees, whilst continuing to maximise the benefits of our proximity to key roads and rail networks and preparing for the arrival of Sprint and Metro services to the UK Central Hub in just a few years’ time.

High Speed Rail is a game changer for Solihull and means that the Birmingham Airport will become the first and only airport connected to HS2, on its arrival in 2026. This is the region’s most significant opportunity that is quickly making Solihull one of the most investible places in Europe - and Birmingham Airport is proud to be part of this renaissance.

Simon Richards
Chief finance officer
Birmingham Airport