Birmingham Airport using the plane-free period to boost its runway hopes

23.4.2010   (Comment in the Birmingham Post   – anonymous)

Green hot air must not go unchallenged

“An extraordinary week during which, for the first time since the Second World
War, general aviation traffic in Britain and most of Europe was suspended for
six days, has quite naturally led to a lively discussion about the important role
airports play in the lives of us all, whether individuals or businesses.

It was possible for once to feel genuinely sorry for Government ministers who
were faced with making a decision that required a defter handling of public opinion
than has hitherto been the hallmark of this particular administration.

In the end, despite the huffing and puffing of airline bosses watching their
profits disappear down the drain, the Department for Transport made the right
call by grounding all flights while research into the impact of the ash cloud
from a volcanic eruption in Iceland was undertaken.

Even the dimmest MP could appreciate how dramatically media coverage of thousands
of stranded travellers across the world might impact on a General Election campaign,
but safety in the aviation industry must take precedence over political expediency.

Environmental organisations such as Friends of the Earth, although acting from
genuinely held views of principle, have shown again how out of touch they are
with the real world by taking a thinly disguised delight at the absence of any
flights at all to or from Birmingham International Airport.

The shutdown was seized upon by Birmingham Friends of the Earth as a timely opportunity
to continue their campaign against the £120 million extension of the BIA runway,
which the organisation continues to present as unnecessary and an environmentally
unsound waste of money.

The events of the past week, however, have crystallised the key role that BIA
plays in the Birmingham and the West Midlands.

Until now, the airport’s claims about the number of jobs it creates and helps
to sustain and the positive economic impact a longer runway will have in the region
by permitting non-stop flights to India, China and the west coast of America have
been nothing more than anodyne figures on a sheet of paper.

It is possible now, though, to imagine what life might be like if the extremist
green lobby got its way and airports across the country were forced to scale down
their activities or even close completely.

Such an extreme turn of events is highly unlikely ever to happen, of course,
but Friends of the Earth and their fellow travellers might care to explain how
the cataclysmic economic damage triggered by slashing the number of flights from
BIA might be addressed.

The organisation should come clean about its agenda for Birmingham Airport, which
it is safe to assume does not simply stop at opposing the runway extension.

The time has come to redouble efforts to make sure Birmingham gets its runway
extension, allowing the airport to compete on a level playing field with Manchester
and the London airports. Indeed, with a huge question mark hanging over Heathrow
and its third runway, the opportunities for BIA to drum up business have never
been greater.”


link to comment