Birmingham traffic boost as building begins

Bernie Baldwin

A £30 million terminal extension will enable the airport to cater for 18 million passengers a year.

Achieving a 1.7% increase in traffic for 2019 might seem a modest result, but when that includes the loss of one of your major traffic providers, it’s remarkable.

That’s the case at Birmingham Airport (BHX) in the UK, which took its calendar year passenger numbers to 12.7 million despite the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook Airlines. Moreover, according to Adam Parker, the airport’s aviation strategy and forecasting manager, this year’s traffic looks set to surpass the 13 million mark for the first time ever in a calendar year.

Helping this year’s growth are new services and increased frequencies from a number of airlines. “easyJet is expanding this year, with new twice daily services to Glasgow and Edinburgh, plus one other, as yet unannounced, route,” reports aviation development manager, Jonathan Ford.

“Jet2 is another which continues to grow. When they began three years ago, they placed four aircraft at BHX; this year, they’ll have 14 plus one on standby. Within the nine new routes Jet2 is launching will be Lisbon and Nice, which we haven’t had since Monarch collapsed in October 2017,” Ford adds. During peak summer, one aircraft will be a Boeing 757 to meet demand.

A new carrier at BHX is Aegean Airlines. “They’ll begin twice weekly flights to Athens from 3 June,” Parker confirms. “They will be our eighth Star Alliance carrier, coming after Austrian, which began service on 1 January this year.

Other new routes come from Blue Air to Bacau, Romania, and during the summer season Turkish Airlines will add a twice-weekly service to Antalya. “Turkish operates to Istanbul from Birmingham twice daily in summer and 10 times weekly in winter,” says Parker.

With traffic rising, the airport is creating extra capacity to cope. “We’ve started on a £30 million extension to the terminal, the first phase of which will open in 2021. With this there will be a 45% increase in the departure lounge area,” Ford remarks. “The extension is the first major investment in more than 10 years. It’s part of the Birmingham Airport Masterplan, published in July 2019 and running until 2033. The development will enable us to cater for 18 million passengers a year.”

A more recent publication is pertinent to BHX’s Masterplan and that’s its Sustainability Strategy, which will drive all aspects of the airport’s operations in an environmentally-friendly manner.

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