Responding to the publication of the West Midlands Aviation Opportunity report last week, Colin Leighfield, Chair of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce Transport Group said, “The report underlines the economic growth potential of one of the region’s major assets: a contribution of £1.1 billion GVA.
“Realising the economic benefits of the Airport - currently running at 25% of capacity – are enormous but they do depend on addressing some important issues. Firstly, HS2 could be used more effectively to link the UK’s regional airport network. The report mentions an additional 750,000 passengers per year as the airport’s catchment area is widened. We believe there is potential for more if HS2 is used correctly. The Davies Commission recommendations will not rebalance the economy: the ability for passengers at congested airports such as Heathrow to use HS2 to fly from Birmingham is surely a much better opportunity provided we can secure some more global airlines. HS2 further undermines the notion of the ‘hub and spoke’ model for UK airports.
“Connectivity to Birmingham Airport is therefore an absolute must. We still do not know if HS2 will mean a reduced rail service from Wolverhampton Station to Birmingham International. We understand that improvements to Junction 10 of the M6 and Junction 6 of the M42 may be happening simultaneously. This is likely to delay journeys to either Curzon Street or the Airport. We have made our position on the M6 Toll clear and are pleased that the West Midlands Combined Authority has recognised the opportunities better use will provide.
“The West Midlands deserves its own first class airport. We do not want people travelling unnecessarily to Heathrow or Manchester airports when Birmingham is on their door step. However, unless our road and rail links are coherent and provide great rapid and public transport across the region, we will be denied the opportunities for growth that the Industrial Heart of England deserves.”