Skies above West Midlands quiet as most Birmingham Airport flights cancelled

By Richard Guttridge | Coronavirus | Published: | Last Updated:

Normally airports are thriving with activity, buzzing with a sense of purpose and excitement as holidaymakers arrive for their getaways or businessmen and women catch their latest flight.

Planes parked up at Birmingham Airport

Sometimes it's chaos as weary travellers try to navigate their way around the airport, or rush to make it to the gate in time.

The same thing happens every day - an almost constant whirlwind of people checking in and out.

But coronavirus has changed that. At Birmingham Airport, check-in desks are closed, escalators quiet and the normally packed Wetherspoons deserted.

On the flight boards, all but a handful of the destinations are followed by one word - cancelled.

Right now the skies above the West Midlands are quiet. Two-week holidays, weekend breaks and stag dos, all cancelled or put on hold.

On Wednesday, all flights from noon onwards out of Birmingham were cancelled.

There are some flights still continuing. KLM is running a semi-regular morning route to Amsterdam, for now at least, from which passengers can still connect to journeys elsewhere.


Around a million people pass through Birmingham Airport every month on average but almost all of that custom has been lost, just as the UK summer starts to come into sight.

Passenger numbers have plummeted following the coronavirus outbreak, with people only being advised to travel if absolutely necessary.

Continued uncertainty about when things will return to normal will not help the airport or its many businesses within as, realistically, no-one can book holidays for the next two months.

And when things do return to normal airports may have to prepare for a mad scramble as customers try to rearrange lost trips or quickly book holidays now they are free to travel again.



Birmingham Airport said all staff who were able to work from home were doing so, while others had been placed on furlough leave.

Some workers are still on site to keep parts of the airport running. Baggage handlers and security staff, for example, are still required for the flights that are continuing.

There have been calls for air travel to be suspended altogether, aside from repatriations, to help tackle the virus but that has yet to happen. British Airways announced it was suspending flights into Gatwick on Tuesday.

Aside from the journeys to Amsterdam, the only other flights operating out of Birmingham are to Dublin.

Ryanair is operating four weekly flights to the Irish capital and Aer Lingus 11, though that will drop to five from Monday.

The plane tracking website Flight Radar showed the skies were silent over the West Midlands at 10am on Wednesday, with the nearest flight a recently-departed Ryanair journey from East Midlands Airport.

It comes as discussions continue within the Government about how best to support airlines and airport owners during the coronavirus crisis.

Aviation groups have called for airlines to be allowed to issue vouchers instead of refunds in the event of cancellations, to help maintain cash flow and prevent them from going to the wall.

A Birmingham Airport spokesman said: “Following Government advice all staff who can work from home are doing so.

"A proportion of operational staff are required to maintain and keep operations running at the airport, and some employees have been placed on furlough leave.”

Richard Guttridge

By Richard Guttridge
Investigations Editor - @RichG_star

Investigations Editor for the Express & Star.


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