Birmingham Airport passenger numbers increase

Birmingham Airport sign The airport believes a longer runway will help it attract new routes

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Some 16,000 more passengers have been flying from Birmingham Airport compared with the same time last year, according to the latest figures.

A 2.3% rise in April was due to a rise in both business and leisure travel, Chief Executive Paul Kehoe said.

He said: "Before Easter I would have said it was all business."

He added that a "return to leisure" since Easter had been "a great surprise," with a number of airlines showing rapid growth.

Work has already started on a £40m runway extension, which Mr Kehoe said would be a "game changer".

Analysis

With work finally under way on Birmingham Airport's extended runway, within a couple of years, direct flights to places further afield will become a reality.

At the moment travellers to places like China have to either go to Heathrow Airport or fly via big "hub" airports like Amsterdam or Frankfurt.

With a longer runway that will not be necessary although the airport still has to attract new airlines.

Many would still prefer to use London airports but capacity is in short supply and with no new runways scheduled to be built, Birmingham has a chance to attract new airlines and keep them.

Management have already gone to China to promote the benefits of flying into the second city.

The runway will allow direct flights to the far east and the west coast of the United States.

'Window of opportunity'

He said: "I can't guarantee we'll get all the routes we want on it, but it gives us the opportunity of going for those routes."

Mr Kehoe added: "The exciting thing for us is that government policy is saying no new runways in the South East, and even if there were to be one, we've got a 10-year window of opportunity to exploit.

"I think once we capture the traffic here in Birmingham it should stay."

Three of 13 routes operated by BMI Baby out of Birmingham are due to end this month, after owners IAG decided in May to ground the loss-making airline.

The other 10 routes are due to finish in September, although the airport said it was hopeful that the routes would be taken by other airlines.

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