Birmingham Airport Challenges UK Aviation Policy

Birmingham Airport has released a report by Paul Kehoe that, he says, challenges orthodox opinion about aviation policy in the UK. He says that t in order for the whole of Britain to capture the economic benefits of changes in global travel the Government must fully utilise existing airport infrastructure and pursue a balanced aviation strategy.  The report, Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket: a challenge to aviation orthodoxy, argues that Britain needs several airports capable of delivering point-to-point connectivity to emerging markets, and the hub and spoke concept is not working well. He wants the regional airports, especially Birmingham, to expand and take the pressure off Heathrow, with the expectation that the 6 largest regional airports could add 116 million of passenger capacity to the network by 2050.



25 June 2012 (Birmingham Airport’s website)

Birmingham Airport has today released a report that challenges orthodox opinion about aviation policy in the UK.

The report, authored by Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s chief executive, says that in order for the whole of Britain to capture the economic benefits of changes in global travel the Government must fully utilise existing airport infrastructure and pursue a balanced aviation strategy.

The report, Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket: a challenge to aviation orthodoxy, argues that:

• Complicated hub-and-spoke demand management policies are failing to adapt to the challenges of aviation in the twenty-first century.
• Britain needs several airports capable of delivering point-to-point connectivity to emerging markets.
• A third runway at Heathrow will only meet 7% of additional passenger capacity needs by 2050; it is not a national aviation strategy.
• The six largest regional airports could add 116 million of passenger capacity to the network by 2050.

Commenting on the report Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive of Birmingham Airport said: “This report is my challenge to policy-makers to think beyond a single hub model that has become rigid aviation orthodoxy, and to consider alternative approaches that can deliver the airport capacity we need, today.

“The alternative approach that I am putting forward is a balanced aviation strategy that makes full use of Britain’s existing airports and that will deliver benefits to the UK more efficiently, more quickly and at a lower cost than any other proposal on the table.

“We have a Government which is set on rebalancing the economy, and we have fantastic airports around the country with the spare capacity to deliver this growth. It is illogical that we are still trying to channel all traffic through the South East, which will only serve to reinforce the imbalance within the economy.

“At Birmingham Airport the number of passengers could double from nine million a year to eighteen million today. We have already started the construction of our runway extension and when completed, in 2014, this number will increase beyond thirty six million. Our runway extension will also allow us to fly to high-value new markets, including Brazil, China and India.

“This report challenges Government to draw a line under old-fashioned industry thinking. It is time to start recognising that there is more than one solution for UK aviation”

As part of the launch of the report, Birmingham Airport has laid out ten ‘tests’ for the Government to meet a balanced UK aviation policy:

1.   Does it cater for the short-term, build towards the medium-term and lay the foundations for the UK’s long-term capacity needs?

2.   Does it provide airports in the South East with the flexibility to replace low value routes with new, high values services?

3.   Does it provide the aviation industry with suitable headroom to ensure the access to the UK is resilient to changes in the weather, accidents and or   terrorist activities?

4.   Does it ensure that customers are able to fly direct to markets of their choice, from their nearest major airport?

5.   Does it provide support for the Government’s wider Growth Agenda by encouraging employment in areas that already suffer from acute economic depression?

6.   Does it facilitate economic rebalancing within the UK by supporting the creation of direct connections between the UK’s industrial capacity and  customers in emerging markets?

7.   Does it allow all parts of the UK to compete for foreign direct investment?

8.   Does it provide incentives for airlines to create point-to-point services between UK cities and cities in emerging economies to create new, city pairs?

9.   Does it balance the environmental impact of aviation growth for residents across the UK?

10. Does it support the integration of road, rail and air transport networks within the UK?

The report is the latest part of Birmingham Airport’s political campaign that is due to run over the summer, during the Government’s aviation consultation. Earlier in the month, Birmingham Airport released a series of hard-hitting adverts on tubes in London, online and in political magazines.




Earlier related stories about Birmingham airport:


Vince Cable backs Birmingham, while Boris pushes for Stansted expansion (and the estuary)

June 19, 2012     The campaign to expand Birmingham Airport has gained a new ally – Business Secretary, Vince Cable. The airport recently launched a new London publicity campaign to persuade the Government to throw its support behind Birmingham at the expense of a third runway at Heathrow. Vince Cable said there was no resistance from residents to this expansion to Birmingham building up to being a “really serious international airport”, and this would be a “short-term, pragmatic solution that would bring an awful lot more flights to the country” while extra runway capacity at an airport in the South East could take years to deliver. So Boris has been suggesting a 2nd Stansted runway (opposed even by the aviation industry) and Vince is backing Birmingham, as interim “solutions” to an alleged problem of capacity.    Click here to view full story…


“Chocks away as Birmingham Airport hits road to London” – ad campaign

June 7, 2012    This is yet more publicity for Birmingham airport, to position itself as the solution to the airport capacity problem that is alleged for the south east. There are now roadside billboards in Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire or Oxfordshire warning motorists of “Heathrow: congestion ahead” and questioning whether or not they are “Going in the right direction?” if heading to a London airport. And the strap-line of this high profile advertising campaign delivers the main message: “Birmingham makes more sense.” Paul Kehoe continues his campaign to boost his airport, saying that after a £200 million investment programme, they could handle an extra 9 million passengers a year. etc   Click here to view full story.


Birmingham Airport calls for Government backing. Claims 36 million passengers by 2030?

May 1, 2012     Paul Kehoe is lobbying for his airport again. He is calling on the Government to endorse the ational status of Birmingham Airport, and dismissed claims from BAA that Heathrow is the only answer to forging new air links with the country. He says, after a trip to China, that Chinese airlines are now considering Birmingham as a new destination once the runway extension is completed in 2014. He says there is a partnership between Birmingham airport and MG Motors, owned by Shanghai Automotive. There is a large Chinese community in Birmingham, and thousands of Chinese students come to Birmingham each year. Kehoe says since 2003, after London, Birmingham has attracted more Chinese investment projects than any other UK city. And he claims the number of passengers using Birmingham airport will rise from 9 million per year now to 36 million by 2030. !? 36 million ??    Click here to view full story…

Birmingham sets sights on China flights

April 28, 2012    Paul Kehoe, the CEO of Birmingham airport, is planning to start direct flights to China as an alternative to services from the south-east. He visited the Chinese city of Chengdu for the Routes Asia aviation conference last week and met with airlines to discuss possible direct flights between Birmingham and China. Birmingham is hoping to attract long-haul services from the airport once its runway extension is completed in 2014, and said feedback from the airlines had been positive. Kehoe says direct China flights from Birmingham will bring investment to the region, and giving airlines and passengers an alternative to battling with London’s congestion problems.   Click here to view full story…


Kehoe says BAA claims are a con, and Chinese companies are happy to fly to Birmingham, by-passing Heathrow

April 22, 2012      We have heard many aviation lobbyists claiming that if business people cannot get direct flights from Heathrow to a multitude of destinations, Britain’s economy is doomed. Now Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham airport, publicly disagrees, wanting to persuade those in power that flights to or from Birmingham will be quite acceptable to commerce, and can bypass Heathrow. And Birmingham gets the profit. He says BAA is “trying to conflate the wider British economic interest with the interests of Heathrow”. Kehoe says the claims that Britain’s economy requires new runways in the south-east are a “con” that an industry dominated by BAA will not question. He says he was in Chengdu recently, talking to Chinese airlines that were considering any entry point into the UK. Kehoe says the Chinese he had spoken to would be happy to come to Birmingham: “they see the UK as an important market and don’t care how they get there.” So lots of in-fighting within the industry, like dogs over a bone … They all want the money …   Click here to view full story…

Birmingham LEP chairman wants Heathrow 3rd runway as well as Birmingham airport growth

April 6, 2012     The Chairman of the Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnership, Andy Street, who is also MD of John Lewis, is a key member of the organisation called London First, which produced a report in Feb 2012, wanting a 3rd Heathrow runway, mixed mode on both Heathrow runways, as well as a new hub airport, more lax planning restrictions, and public subsidy for aviation. As well as pushing for growth at Birmingham airport, Mr Street is also pushing for a new Heathrow runway, and has somewhat upset his colleagues in Birmingham by not seeing “the issue from a national perspective and neglects the valuable role regional airports can play in satisfying this demand in both the short and long term.”     Click here to view full story…


Transport secretary pledges to ‘remove barriers’ to Birmingham Airport expansion

March 23, 2012    Justine Greening has said she wanted to “remove barriers” which prevented Birmingham airport growing. The airport has been lobbying ministers to be allowed to expand, and has argued that in the long term regional airports such as Birmingham should be considered as an alternative to a new airport in the Thames Estuary. Ms Greening said the planned high speed rail line, which will include a new station close to Birmingham Airport, would make it far more accessible to people from across the country. On the Aviation Policy Framework (consultation on which is now delayed till summer from March) she said “… we are quite keen to see what we can do to allow regional airports like Birmingham to flourish. They have a key role to play and we want to look at how we can take away some of the barriers that stop them doing that and look at how we can really put them in the best possible position to do well.”   Click here to view full story…