UK manufacturers enter airport debate

Posted on 8 Jul 2013

Birmingham Airport has launched a series of adverts to persuade policy-makers that the UK needs a network of long-haul airports to cater for business demand across the country.

The adverts focus on the importance of Birmingham Airport for UK manufacturing, featuring high profile manufacturers from the region.

In one of them, William Wang, managing director of MG Motor UK, asks: “The UK’s manufacturing base is not near Heathrow. So why do I have to fly from there?”

Another advert stresses that a third runway at Heathrow is not a long-term national aviation strategy and that the UK needs a network of long-haul airports across the country: “A third runway won’t solve our aviation problems. Four airports will.”

The campaign has been run in response to the Airports Commission’s inquiry and is aimed at the Commission and policy-makers. It will run up until 19th July, the deadline set by the Airports Commission for long-term proposals from airports and project sponsors.

Paul Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham Airport, said: “These adverts make a serious point – our aviation sector is currently failing to adequately serve the majority of UK businesses that are located outside of the South East.

“We can talk about the importance of additional hub capacity in the South East for the UK economy until we are blue in the face, but unless we listen to businesses across the UK we are failing to meet the needs of our national economy.”

Mr Wang also commented: “The UK manufacturing base is outside of the South East and, as a result, it suffers from a lack of direct air links with crucial long-haul markets like China. A Birmingham to Shanghai route alone would enable hundreds of business flights a year to operate, boosting the growth of British manufacturing and encouraging inward investment.”

Last week, Birmingham Airport and Air India announced that, from August 1st 2013, flights between Birmingham Airport and Delhi will operate four times a week, using the new Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner aircraft.

Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, said: “The West Midlands secures more inward investment from India than anywhere outside London, supporting 24,000 local jobs in the past decade. With 10% of our investment pipeline comprising Indian businesses that demand direct access to the city, this route will enable us to maximise the potential of this growing market.