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The History And Development Of Birmingham Airport

Jul 26, 2008
Birmingham International Airport located in the borough of Solihull lies approximately six miles away from Birmingham city centre. Last year it was regarded to be the sixth busiest airport in the UK after the London airports and Manchester. The fantastic road links to the M42 and A45 make car hire services a preferable option for many business passengers as well as tourists wanting to see the Midlands. In terms of passenger numbers the airport is teetering on the million mark and has been for the last few years. Flights from the airport go to destinations such as Europe, America, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.

Birmingham Airport was originally opened in1939 and was quickly requisitioned by the Air Ministry at the outbreak of war. Originally the airfield had grass runways but for military purposes these were converted to tarmac. After the war had finished, the airport was returned to civilian use. During the post war years the airport was owned by Birmingham County Council and later the West Midlands County Council. The late sixties saw a further extension of the runways so that large jumbo jets could land.

Runways were not the only developments during the seventies and eighties. In 1984 a terminal was opened that could handle around three million passengers a year. A second terminal was also opened during the eighties and at the opening ceremony Concorde flew in to mark the occasion. The eighties saw privatisation of Birmingham Airport, taking control away from the local council bodies. In 2003 Birmingham saw the last appearance of Concorde as it made its farewell tour. Today the services on offer in the terminal are extensive, a large number of fast food and restaurant chains have outlets as do many of the major car hire companies. Last year, the airport was voted Europe's best in the mid sized category.

Like most airports in the UK, Birmingham had to release a master plan that laid out its expansions plans up until 2030. The plan sets out the proposed development of the runways, airfield layout and terminals in the coming years. However like many of the expansion plans, local residents and environmental campaigners are adamant that they should not go ahead. Despite this, the airport is going to attempt a runway extension in time for the 2012 Olympics; the extension will be required if the airport is to accommodate the large long haul planes such as the new Airbus.

The terminal and main pier will also be improved to increase the efficiency of passenger transit. There are even proposed plans for a satellite building to accommodate larger planes, although for this to go ahead the amount of apron space will also have to expand. While the airport may have scrapped its plans for a second runway, the terminal is still set to develop to increase the number of passengers Birmingham will be able to handle. The slightly optimistic estimates hope that by 2010 around eleven million passengers will be using the airport annually. Once again, accompanying services such as car hire desks, shops and restaurants will also be expanded to cope with the increased passenger numbers.

Birmingham airport is currently the UK's sixth major airport. While London Stansted, Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester have a somewhat secure place, Birmingham will be hoping to overtake London Luton in the coming years. From the humble beginnings and grass runways, Birmingham has become an important part of the air travel network and a gateway to the Midlands and beyond.
About the Author
Air travel expert Thomas Pretty looks into how car hire Birmingham airport services have played an importnat role in the site's development.
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