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London’s new airport “could be in Birmingham”

15.8.2010 (Telegraph)

The Telegraph says, somewhat unrealistically:

“London’s newest airport could be in Birmingham, thanks to improved rail links
that will eventually cut the journey time to the heart of London down to 38 minutes.”

By David Millward

With the coalition Government blocking expansion at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted, the West Midlands airport says it is “the solution” to the lack
of capacity in the South East.

“Regional airports are part of an integrated transport solution,” said Paul Kehoe,
Birmingham Airport’s chief executive. “I hope that any forthcoming aviation review
will recognise the capacity that can be released through their efficient use as
part of a networked ‘bigger picture’. Airports need to work better with other
transport modes – and not just be bigger.”

“We have plenty of capacity and with excellent transport links we are uniquely
positioned to attract passengers – including from the overheated South East –
as part of an integrated approach. I hope that the Government’s new thinking will
encourage others to take a fresh look at their travel habits and see that there
are compelling alternatives to Heathrow.”

There is little doubt that the airport is ambitious. Birmingham has spent £100m
over the past decade and wants to invest the same amount over the next 10 years.
But much depends on its success in cutting the time it takes to get from the airport
to London before the high-speed line is built, which will slash the journey to
Euston to 38 minutes.

Virgin Trains believes some engineering work around Coventry would, within a
couple of years, make it possible for a passenger to get to Euston in about 50
minutes. This would bring Birmingham as close to the heart of London as Stansted,
which is 45 minutes away from Liverpool Street. A journey will take about 15 minutes
longer than coming into the capital than from Gatwick and half an hour more than
the Heathrow Express.

Virgin, which is hoping to renew its rail franchise on the West Coast Main Line,
is also in talks with both the airport and a number of airlines over ticketing,
which would enable passengers to pay for their plane and
train trip at the same time.

“There are massive opportunities for growth at Birmingham International and we
are working closely with the airport do deliver it,” said a Virgin Trains spokesman.

Within its existing structure, Birmingham could double to 18m the number passengers
it handles a year, 1m less than currently handled by Stansted. The airport’s growth
plans could take the figure up to 30m.

Birmingham also has permission to extend its runway by 400 metres, which means
that destinations such as China, Cape Town and the American West Coast would be
within reach.

Connections within the airport are good, thanks to the “SkyRail” train which
takes only 91 seconds to transfer passengers from the railway station to the terminal.
But much depends on convincing passengers that Birmingham is a viable alternative
to London’s traditional airports.

One option is persuading people that it is worthwhile to “fly the train”, which
would see the train ticket being included as part of the air fare. This is common
practice in Germany, where passengers flying to Frankfurt pick up a high-speed
train to nearby cities such as Cologne. Virgin Atlantic throws in a ticket on
the Heathrow or Gatwick Express for its business class passengers.

Such initiatives would cement Birmingham’s place as a major airport which, if
not a rival to Heathrow, could at least be a viable alternative.

link to article

More news and information on Birmingham Airport

see also
Birmingham Airport says it “Offers Solution to the ‘Heathrow Problem'”

12th May 2010       Birmingham Airport’s CEO, Paul Kehoe, has wasted no time in putting in his plug
about the airport benefitting from the decision to scrap plans for a 3rd Heathrow
runway. The airport says it now handles 9 million passengers per year, and there
is enough spare capacity to take another 9 million passengers immediately – and
another 21 million passengers in future years, with its runway extension, for
which Planning Consent has already been given.       Click here to view full story…

Birmingham Airport using the plane-free period to boost its runway hopes
 26th April 2010       Birmingham airport expansion supporters are using the 6 days without flights
to boost their campaign to get the runway extension paid for. They claim the “extremist
green lobby” are completely misguided and out of touch. It says “The time has
come to redouble efforts to make sure Birmingham gets its runway extension”. (Birmingham
Post)       Click here to view full story…

see also

Birmingham Airport’s comment on   22.7.2010 on the report by Lord Mawhinney into
High Speed Rail Links from London to the north in mid July at

Mawhinney Report Misses the Point

which includes the comments:

“Unfortunately, the report seems fixated with the notion that a High Speed link
should draw in more traffic to Heathrow, rather than distribute the excessive
demand elsewhere. Whilst this may be good news for BAA shareholders, it may not
be such good news for regional economies.

The point of High Speed Rail in the UK is not to benefit one already-overloaded
Airport in the South East, or indeed be seen solely in an aviation context. HS2
must have an equitable effect for the Country as a whole, and generate opportunity
for more jobs and prosperity in the regions. The Mawhinney report, presumably
informed by huge vested interest, thus compounds the ‘Heathrow Myth’.

The biggest myth is the erroneous assumption that Heathrow has to continue to
be the UK’s ‘only Hub Airport’”


“In these uncertain times, whether act of volcano or something more sinister,
it also makes sense on the part of National Resilience not to ‘place all of one’s
eggs in the same basket’, and to deploy National Strategic assets appropriately.

Birmingham Airport (amongst other major regional Airports) is a Strategic National
Asset which, with emerging Government thinking, can easily form part of the solution
to the ‘Heathrow Problem’. There is spare capacity at Birmingham – enough capacity
to take another 9 million passengers immediately – and more than another 21 million
passengers in future years, as it improves its capability with a modest runway
extension, for which Planning Consent has already been given”.


“The Airport is running at less than 40% capacity. Making best use of the UK’s
strategic resources can only be in everyone’s interests”.

"Birmingham Airport is a vital yet underused piece of National strategic infrastructure.
It is already the Midlands’ premier international gateway.

In addition to this important role, the prospect of HS2 from Central London to
BIA will make journey times comparable with Gatwick and Heathrow, and shorter
than Stansted and Luton. “




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