AIRPORT BOSS IN RUNWAY WARNING
The boss of Birmingham Airport has warned Advantage West Midlands that unless it delivers £25m promised in aid two and a half years ago, the proposed runway extension could be scrapped – to the detriment of the entire region.
Airport Chief Executive Paul Kehoe issued a statement yesterday after other journalists started sniffing around The Stirrer’s story about a disagreement with AWM.
We reported last week that funding to revamp the A45 around the proposed runway extension has apparently been stymied by red tape surrounding “state aid”.
In the meantime, other airports – including Manchester, Glasgow and Stansted – had received or been promised much larger subsidies.
Now Kehoe is piling the pressure on AWM, warning that, “Whilst the Region’s economic recovery may depend on having a runway extension, the future viability of the Airport does not”.
In other words, unless AWM stumps up the cash, the airports shareholders will scrap its runway plans and maximise profits from European destinations - leaving the West Midlands to miss out on the economic benefits of long haul flights.
Kehoe added that BIA was doing its bit, saying “Although there aren’t shovels in the ground, behind the scenes we have already committed millions in project planning, and buying land that we might need.
“Our people are eager to deliver a world class gateway if the sums add up; that’s why we have just invested £50 million in our new International Pier which can even take the World’s largest Airliner – the A380. We can now cope with seven wide-body type aircraft at a time.”
But he warned, “Without a runway extension we are unlikely to see those aircraft delivering passengers from distant locations."
And AWM cash is, by Kehoe's account, clearly the key to achieving that: "My Board has challenged me to deliver a viable Business Plan for the Runway Extension, which balances the need to give the Airport’s Shareholders a return on their investment, and meets the regional desire to have global connectivity.
“Without such an assurance to my Board, there seems little prospect of a runway extension…the scheme could cost our shareholders rather than giving them a modest return.
“This was recognised back in 2007 by AWM and we have been working on the extension and been in talks with them for some time…we need to work together to resolve this matter and decide once and for all whether the region wants a project that will generate billions for the region in jobs and investment.”
AWM said: "The BIA runway extension and A45 relocation is a priority transport project that will not only enhance the region's economic performance but also add to its appeal as a business locatuon. We are currently working with BIA and partners to take the project forward."
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