Second runway ruled out under Birmingham Airport masterplan

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The boss of Birmingham Airport has confirmed proposals for a second runway have been scrapped as a £500 million masterplan for the next 15 years was unveiled.

Acting managing director Simon Richards said the idea of a second runway had been pitched as part of the hope that the Government would choose to expand regional airports rather than build a third runway at Heathrow.

That hope was dashed this summer. Now, said Mr Richards, Birmingham Airports future plans revolved around its single runway, which is enough to cater for up to 30 million passengers a year.

By 2033 Birmingham expects to be handling 18 million passengers a year, and has unveiled a string of expansion plans for the site.

The masterplan makes no mention of the UKs imminent departure from the European Union, but Mr Richards said: “The plans are Brexit neutral. We are expecting things to carry smoothly as they are at present. I am sure things will be bumpy along the way but the masterplan is designed to be resilient whatever happens.”

Corin Crane, chief executive of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: “Birmingham Airport have laid out some very exciting plans that will help make an already excellent airport even better and see passenger numbers increase year on year as well as become one of the best connected sites in the UK.

“The airport is an incredibly important asset to the local business community for flights, freight and international trade so its essential that as many businesses as possible feed into the consultation process as possible.

Mr Richards said the airport was already in the process of selecting contractors for the first phase of work, improving and enlarging the passenger terminal and baggage sorting areas and would aim to have the work done over the next two years.

“The enlargement of the security area and the introduction of new x-ray equipment – which will allow people to carry liquids in their baggage – is part of a Government process that will take place over the next three to four years,” he said.

“We will also look to re-organise the airport stands (the parking bays for aircraft to load and unload) and make them wider as aircraft have got bigger.”

Work on the HS2 Interchange station is expected to be complete by 2026, and the airport is working with the HS2 team on developing a new transport system to taking passengers from the Interchange, stopping at the current Birmingham International railway station, and on to the airport terminal.

Looking ahead, the airport wants to safeguard plots of land to allow for further expansion and talks are under way over the use of the NECs western car park, which is owned by Birmingham council – one of the seven West Midlands local authorities that part owns the airport along with a consortium of Canadian pension funds. The car park site would be used to create more aircraft stands, probably towards the end of the 15 year masterplan period, said Mr Richards.

And he said the plan, which he described as self-financing, had the backing of the airports current investors as well as new investors including major US pension funds involved in the debt funding market.

The growth of the airport over the next 15 years would also see a rise in employment on the site. The airport itself employs around 850 people, with a total of 8,000 working across the whole site for airlines, engineering, maintenance, cleaning and catering businesses. That is expected to rise by 11 per cent, or around 800 people, over the 15 years, said Mr Richards.

A masterplan roadshow is going on tour over the coming weeks to get the views of people across the West Midlands s part of a consultation process. It comes to Wolverhamptons Novatel Hotel on December 10, Dudley Town Hall on December 12, Walsalls Holiday Inn on January 7 and the Hadley Stadium in Smethwick on January 22.

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A Community and Aviation Forum met last night to discuss the Preliminary Draft Master Plan; the first incarnation of the Master Plan 2040 which, once endorsed by council, will guide the evolution of the airport over the next 20 years.

Retiring Sunshine Coast Airport CEO Peter Pallot said when considering the facility's future, they would first look at passenger and aircraft movements over the coming decades.

"And what the terminal would look like in terms of car parks, ground services, utilities, airspace and aviation planning in a post-new-runway environment," Mr Pallot said.

The Preliminary Draft Master Plan is due to be finalised and released in early 2019 followed by a 50 day public consultation period.

All submissions received during this period will be considered and addressed as necessary in the development of a Draft Master Plan, which must then be submitted to Sunshine Coast Council for consideration and approval.

The new Sunshine Coast Airport Master Plan will incorporate the infrastructure being delivered by council under the Sunshine Coast Airport Expansion Project (SCAEP).

The SCAEP is expected to add $4.1 billion to gross regional product between 2020 to 2040, and open new direct destinations in Australia, the Pacific and Asia.

"I truly believe that the new runway and the airport will contribute to and support the growth of the Sunshine Coast," Mr Pallot said ahead of the draft's launch.

"And whilst we may not see the benefits of that in the very near future, in the long-term future generations will benefit from the opportunities to not only connect direct with Australia but rest of the world.

"Opportunities for export will open up new industries here… create new jobs, new industries, and create a place that our children can not only be educated, but can stay and work.

Mr Pallot said the draft was very much a "work in progress", and encouraged people to make submission on what is ultimately a major piece of community infrastructure.

"The future of the Sunshine Coast is looking spectacular at the moment… every day I am just blown away by what's happening," he said.

"The airport over the last 55 years has played a really important part of the evolution of the Sunshine Coast.

"It's a major piece of infrastructure and people feel like they have an ownership of the airport, so it's important their views are reflecting in our growth plan."


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