From how a strong airport can help exports, to record passenger figures for the 17th successive month. Steve Dyson reports on the latest aviation news.
Birmingham Airport chief executive Paul Kehoe has spoken of how crucial exporting is to the West Midlands economy. Kehoe said: “Global connectivity supports trade and attracts inward investment, so we have a vital role in the Midlands to further improve this by growing access to long haul markets and helping to re-balance the UK’s economy.
“Birmingham is at the heart of manufacturing, has the biggest legal system and business support outside of the capital. It’s at the centre of a £110bn regional economy and has the largest concentrate of businesses outside London, with 2,000 international firms and world-famous brands such as HSBC, Deutsche Bank, JLR, Mondelez and KPMG.
“This success will only grow as the airport grows, HS2 arrives and more businesses realise the enormous benefits of relocating – as did HSBC and Deutsche Bank – and investing in Birmingham rather than the overheated, overpriced capital.”
Kehoe was explaining why the airport was sponsoring the ‘Export’ category in the Birmingham Post Business Awards (BPBA) this Autumn. He said: “Local businesses, both established and start-up, are contributing to the overall success of our economy and helping to attract trade and inward investment, and for this reason, we support this awards scheme.”
Kehoe said that the ‘Export’ category naturally aligned with the airport’s own industry, because of how global connectivity supports export and trade. He added: “We have sponsored the export award for many years now and enjoy learning about companies which are exporting successfully from Birmingham – some of which rely on air travel to meet their business demands.
“It’s therefore rewarding for our business to witness this success and we enjoy celebrating with all the finalists who have done exceptionally well to get to this stage.
The BPBA take place at The ICC, Broad St, Birmingham on Wednesday 26 October.
Birmingham still supports Gatwick
With the government decision on airport expansion due any day now, Birmingham Airport has underlined its support for Gatwick instead of Heathrow. Birmingham’s chief executive Paul Kehoe said that a new Gatwick runway, when compared to the alternative Heathrow option, would lead to “greater competition and choice across the UK’s long-haul airports, allowing Birmingham Airport to continue to grow”.
Kehoe argued that people flying for business or leisure want to fly direct from their airport of choice. With Birmingham experiencing record growth he said a network of long-haul airports, linking all regions into global growth opportunities, is required. He said: “Of the two options before the Government, we support Gatwick’s expansion plan because it will foster greater competition among airports and allow other UK long-haul airports to continue to compete and grow their own direct services.
“Heathrow’s plan could constrain this growth with the direct international connections that airports like Birmingham have fought for being lost to West London. A decision for Heathrow would simply mean a return to the monopoly of the past, reducing choice, increasing fares and threatening the business of Birmingham and other UK airports.”
Businesses celebrate flying future
Businesses have been given a boost by a local planning decision to retain Wellesbourne Airfield, near Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. The future of the airfield – home to flying schools, a museum, a café and other businesses – was under threat when plans for up to 1,500 homes led to eviction notices being served to the businesses. But Stratford District Council has now said Wellesbourne is an ‘important asset’ to the area and has not included the site in its Core Strategy, outlining development plans in the district up to 2031.
Light aircraft use Wellesbourne as a refuelling stop, and RAF cadets learn to fly at the airfield. It’s also hosted the weekly Wellesbourne Market for more than 40 years.
Rodney Galiffe, president of the South Warwickshire Flying School, said: “The airfield brings a lot of people to the area. There’s the market on Saturday and Bank Holiday Mondays, people fly to Wellesbourne and people who are on courses here with us stay in the village.
“The RAF send us air cadets to get their pilot’s license too. Air ambulance paramedics fly out from here, which not many people know. And people enjoy sitting at the cafe watching planes coming in and taking off.”
Over 1.2m passengers in July
Birmingham Airport welcomed over 1.2 million people in July, the 17th consecutive month of record-breaking growth. A total of 1,221,212 people travelled through the airport during the month, up by 14% on July 2015. Long-haul saw very significant passenger growth rates, up by 32.8%, and short-haul grew by 12.1%. Paul Kehoe, chief executive at Birmingham Airport, said: “It’s great news that recent months have consistently been surpassing the million-passengers-a-month mark. A 14% growth rate year-on-year for July is significant and equates to almost 150,000 more passengers.
"August tends to be our busiest month so we soon expect to announce more records over the next few weeks, as well as breaking the 11 million passenger mark in twelve months.”
Scheduled traffic accounted for over 86.4% of the total passenger volume for July and saw a 26.1% growth rate compared to the same month last year. Charter traffic accounted for over 13.6% of the total. Middle Eastern, Caribbean and North American destinations saw the greatest increase in passengers, due to more airlines serving these regions.
Scheduled destinations with significant year-on-year passenger growth were Madrid (+313.3%), Heraklion (+156.6%) and Palma de Mallorca (+71.7%). Charter destinations with significant growth were Orlando (+206.3%), Gerona (+170.6%), Fuerteventura (+96.6%) and Alicante (+62%).
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