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July 6, 2010

The Expansion Of Birmingham Airport

Birmingham Airport is located in Solihull, a borough of the city of Birmingham; the airport itself is around six miles away from the centre of the city. In terms of size, it is the sixth largest airport in the UK with a host of shops, restaurants, car hire provisions and other transport links. Currently the airport has direct link to the M42 and A45 while it is also close to the M6 meaning that much of the Midlands is only a short drive from the site. Around a million passengers use Birmingham airport annually with routes to much of Europe as well as long haul flights to the United States and the Indian subcontinent.

The airport was originally opened in the late nineteen thirties but at the outset of war was quickly taken over by the military. At this stage the site only had grass runways although the RAF converted these to tarmac to accommodate large bombers. Once the war had ended however the site returned to civilian uses and came under the ownership of local councils. The post war years saw steady process and in the late nineteen sixties the airport runways were extended in order to accommodate large commercial jets.

After the runways were extended the next two decades saw further expansion. The mid eighties saw a new terminal that has the facilities to cope with around three million passengers annually. Even with a new terminal, Birmingham built another that was opened ceremoniously with a visit from the supersonic flyer, Concorde. Concorde visited once more at the turn of the century during its tour of Britain before decommissioning. The terminals remain however and now offer passengers a host of services such as cafes, restaurants, shops and car hire desks. Obviously the executive authorities are doing their jobs properly as last year it was voted Europe’s best mid sized airport.

As a result of a government paper ensuring all airports released detailed master plans for their expansion over the next three decades Birmingham released their development scheme. These plans set out a schedule that would see further extension of the runways and an expansion of the apron space in the coming years. As with most of the UK’s airports however local residents and environmental campaigners have been quick to voice their concerns with the expansion plans. Despite protests however, airport authorities are still striving to extend the runways in time for the next Olympic Games, being held in London in the year 2012. Additionally, the runway extensions are being pursued so the new Airbus A380 will be accommodated at the site.

The master plan also sets out the proposed plans for further expansion of the main pier and the terminal more generally. Designers would even like to put in a new satellite building that would specifically deal with Airbus transit. This kind of expansion however will require a far larger amount of apron space for aircraft taxiing. Birmingham has been forced to abandon its plans for a second runway although extension to the terminal building is likely to occur to increase the provisions for passenger numbers. Naturally as the terminal expands services such as shops, car hire desks and restaurants will be built up to cope with the increased passenger numbers.

Currently Birmingham is the UK’s sixth airport behind the four London airports and Manchester. While the top four have their positions somewhat secured, Birmingham will be hoping to build up its range of services to compete with Luton for fifth spot. As the city of Birmingham grows it is doubtless that its servicing airport will also have to develop.

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