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Birmingham Airport calls for Government backing

Birmingham | News | Published:

Birmingham Airport is calling on the Government to endorse its national status as chief executive Paul Kehoe revealed talks with Far Eastern airlines about launching new flights from the site in the future.

Birmingham Airport is calling on the Government to endorse its national status as chief executive Paul Kehoe revealed talks with Far Eastern airlines about launching new flights from the site in the future.

Mr Kehoe has returned from a trip promoting links between the West Midlands and China.

And he has dismissed claims from airports group BAA that Heathrow Airport is the only answer to forging new air links with the country.

He has been talking with a string of Far Eastern airlines during a three-day visit to the Chinese city of Chengdu for the Routes Asia conference. Mr Kehoe said feedback from the airlines was positive, with many now considering Birmingham as a new destination once the runway extension is completed in 2014.

He said: "We hear so much from BAA about the UK losing lucrative new routes because of the capacity constraints at Heathrow but the South East isn't the only solution.

"Our runway extension will allow aircraft to fly direct from China, bringing investment to the region, and giving airlines and passengers an alternative to battling with London's congestion problems. We now need the UK Government to endorse Birmingham Airport, when it releases its Aviation Policy Review later this year, as a national airport that can offer a rapid and cost effective solution to the aviation gap."

Mr Kehoe and his team had the largest airport stand at the Routes Asia event, aiming to demonstrate the strong trading links with China by showing a film about the partnership between the airport and MG Motors, a company owned by Shanghai Automotive.

William Wang, managing director of Longbridge-based MG Motors has said there is serious need for direct flights between Birmingham and Shanghai for business passengers, the region's large Chinese community and the thousands of students that come to Birmingham each year.

Since 2003, after London, Birmingham has attracted more Chinese investment projects than any other UK city, receiving £76.59m in capital investment and creating 596 jobs during this period.

Mr Kehoe added: "Birmingham Airport currently handles nine million passengers a year but can take double this number today with its current infrastructure. With the runway extension, this will grow to 36m by 2030."

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