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Larger Birmingham Airport could boost economy

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Larger Birmingham Airport integrated with HS2 could give ‘supersonic boost’ to economy.

Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy, responding to the announcement by the Government about a third runway for Heathrow Airport, puts the case for making more of Birmingham Airport:

‘While around 11 million people currently use Birmingham Airport, the facilities in place will reach capacity before the HS2 station arrives in 2026. Building new terminal facilities integrated with the HS2 station would connect the centre of the country to the world, and also open the opportunity to create a larger airport in the future.

With HS2, the Airport’s catchment area will be dramatically enlarged into London, giving it an increasingly national role. Travel time between London Euston and Birmingham International station is currently 70 minutes and will be reduced to around 40 minutes from 2026 with the arrival of HS2. This compares very favourably to the current travel time from London Euston to London Heathrow.

In 2014, the Airport delivered approximately £1.1 billion to the regional economy and £1.7 billion to the national economy, and supported around 40,000 jobs. This will have only increased as passenger numbers have risen.

Doubling the number of flights and passenger through-put at Birmingham could add 31,000 jobs on site and boost catchment area employment by 243,000 jobs, according to the West Midlands Economic Forum.

Redeveloping Birmingham Airport is a key element of the Strategic Economic Plans of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Black Country and Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Birmingham Airport has huge potential and the ability to open up access to key international markets for thousands of the region’s businesses, and will be significantly bolstered by HS2 bringing 35 million people within two hours’ travel.

The economic catchment area of Birmingham Airport encompasses some 14 million people, providing close to £263 billion of national GVA and has the largest share of manufacturing activity in the UK. With 15,000 exporters it is one of the largest concentrations of exporters nationally typically supplying high-value added products, most notably vehicles, transport machinery and component parts around the world.

Growth prospects in the UK and across the EU are challenging, but growth in other regions of the world continues to accelerate. Improved global access to these markets would stimulate demand for the high-value added products the Greater Birmingham area produces.

Failure to improve the reach of Birmingham Airport will enable economic rivals to gain an advantage and stunt UK export performance, especially when there is a need to access growth markets now – China alone has added 70 new airports in the past five years.’

Birmingham City Council leader John Clancy said:

“Significant redevelopment of Birmingham Airport simply has to happen for Birmingham and the West Midlands to achieve its goal of delivering inclusive economic growth across the region – that is jobs and homes for all citizens.

“Our airport is already one of our key anchor economic institutions with a catchment area that is home to the largest share of manufacturing activity anywhere in the UK, with 15,000 firms exporting their goods across the world from Birmingham.

“But we have to and can do much more to grow our airport and deliver a game-changing boost to the Birmingham and West Midlands’ economy. We are at cruising speed now, but nothing less than a supersonic jobs and wealth boost will do for this region.

“The government has made a decision on resolving congestion at London’s airports. As a region, we must now develop our own plans for Birmingham Airport and HS2, to connect the West Midlands to global opportunities.

“In ten years’ time, Birmingham is going to be the first and only UK airport with a high speed train service on the doorstep, and travel times linking Birmingham and London will be around 40 minutes.

“Our airport connects 11 million people a year to the UK and the world and, when HS2 arrives, we will play an increasing national role. We are working together as a region on an ambitious plan to maximise the benefits of HS2, and ensure our airport can respond to the growing demand it is experiencing today and the extra demand high speed rail will bring.

“We are developing an exciting vision for the UK’s first fully integrated transport hub at the HS2 station, with travel options, architecture and ambition that eclipses anything else in Europe.

“A bigger, better airport will help Birmingham and the West Midlands to get its advanced manufacturing products across the globe in a post-Brexit world. It will help us expand the importance of life sciences and bring new capital to invest in Birmingham. Crucially, it will make it easier for international companies and wealth producers to do business in the West Midlands.

“On its own, a major redevelopment of Birmingham Airport is a huge infrastructure project creating many new high-quality skilled jobs. But we cannot afford to lose sight of the fact that If Birmingham Airport’s infrastructure allowed, it could be serving around 55 million passengers per year by 2050, providing an enormous boost to the economy, many times more than the £1.7bn a year it delivers today. This is an opportunity that our region cannot afford to turn down.

“That is a goal that must be delivered if we are serious about growing the West Midlands economy and creating jobs.”

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