Runway Extension Begins

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Work has started on a runway extension at Birmingham Airport, UK.  By extending the existing runway by 1, 328ft (405m), aircraft will be able to take off with more fuel and fly directly to destinations currently out of reach, such as China, South America, South Africa and the West Coast of the USA.

The airport says the development, opening in early 2014, will “generate spare long-haul capacity in the UK Midlands region” [while runway capacity is a problem in the southeast of England] and “help to take cars off the road, saving thousands of unnecessary surface journeys each year” [by enabling their users to fly from Birmingham].

Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s CEO, explained: “The strong economic profile of the Midlands means that businesses are crying out for direct connectivity from their local airport, so it makes no sense that 3.3 million passengers from the West Midlands last year flew from airports in the South East, adding congestion on the roads and at Heathrow, which is already 99.2% full.

“Redirecting this traffic back to the Midlands would release high value, long-haul capacity at London airports and boost the UK’s trading potential.  We have plenty of spare capacity at Birmingham now.  Our passenger numbers could double from the current nine million a year to 18 million, and the runway extension will allow us to increase beyond 36 million in future years.”

He continued:  “Our passenger growth could create in excess of 243,000 jobs in the region, according to a new report by the West Midlands Economic Forum.  Making greater use of the spare capacity at airports across the country will help generate sustainable long-term economic growth and help to rebalance the UK economy.”

The airport reports it is in active talks with existing and new airlines to explore fresh markets and routes from the Midlands.  A new team of route development experts and a trade sales team have been employed by the company to ensure that the airport is represented globally at key trade events and meetings, and it is working with local brands such as car manufacturers JLR and MG Motors to help develop relationships with key overseas markets.

The runway extension will be wholly funded by the airport company at a cost of £33 million (US$53m).  In addition, Birmingham Airport is making a further investment of £13 million ($20.9m) for the construction of a new air traffic control tower and radar system, which will be operational in early 2013, plus £9m ($14.5m) on resurfacing the entire runway.  (Image: BHX)

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