Birmingham Airport (IATA: BHX, ICAO: EGBB), formerly Birmingham International Airport and before that, Elmdon Airport, is an international airport located 7 nautical miles (13 km; 8.1 mi) east-southeast of Birmingham city centre, slightly north of Bickenhill in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, England. It has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P451) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. Passenger throughput in 2017 was over 12.9 million, making Birmingham the seventh busiest UK airport. The airport offers both domestic flights within the UK and international flights to destinations in Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, North America and the Caribbean. Birmingham Airport is an operating base for Flybe, Jet2.com, Ryanair, Thomas Cook Airlines and TUI Airways.
|Operator||Birmingham Airport Ltd|
|Serves||Birmingham, United Kingdom|
|Location||Bickenhill, Solihull, United Kingdom|
|Focus city for|
|Elevation AMSL||341 ft / 104 m|
Birmingham Airport is 5.5 NM (10.2 km; 6.3 mi) east-south-east of Birmingham city centre, in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull. It is bordered by the National Exhibition Centre to the east, Marston Green to the north, Sheldon to the west, the village of Bickenhill to the south, and the village of Elmdon to the south west.
It is primarily served by the A45 main road, and is near Junction 6 of the M42 motorway. It is connected by the elevated AirRail Link with Birmingham International railway station on the West Coast Main Line.
The airport's location south-east of the city, plus the only operational runway being north-west – south-east (15/33), means that depending on wind direction, aircraft land or take-off directly over Birmingham. The relatively short north-east – south-west runway (06/24) is not operational, and has been incorporated into the taxiway for aircraft departing the end of runway 33, or gaining access to runway 15.
1920 to 1939Edit
On 8 July 1939 the Duchess of Kent, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark opened Elmdon Airport. The airport was owned and operated by Birmingham City Council. Initial services flew to Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Ryde, Shoreham, Manchester and Southampton.
World War IIEdit
During World War II the airport was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and was used by the RAF and the Royal Navy as RAF Elmdon, an Elementary Flying School and a base for the Fleet Air Arm. During this time, the original grass strip was replaced by two hard runways: 06/24 at 2,469 feet (753 m) and 15/33 at 4,170 feet (1,271 m). Avro Lancaster and Stirling bombers manufactured at the Austin Aero Company's shadow factory at Cofton Hackett could not take off from the short runways at Longbridge. Instead they were transported by road, minus the wings that would be attached at Elmdon. They were test flown from the aerodrome, and once declared airworthy they were flown to their operational units. On 8 July 1948, the aerodrome returned to civilian use, though still under government control.
1950 to 2000Edit
During the post-war years, public events, such as air fairs and air races were held on the site. In 1961, an additional terminal building to handle international traffic was opened, called The International Building. The main runway was extended to 7,400 feet (1.4 miles) to allow jet operations, including introducing VC-10 services to New York in 1967.
1984 saw the opening of the Maglev rail link train between the airport terminal and nearby railway station. The Maglev rail link was shut down in 1995 after 11 years, following a string of breakdowns.
The Government limited public sector borrowing applied in 1993. This meant that the airport could only expand by using private sector finance. 51% of the local council shares were sold to restructure the airport into a private sector company, enabling a £260 million restructuring programme to begin in 1997.
2001 to 2009Edit
In June 2006, a new turnoff from the main runway was completed and saw an improvement in traffic rates on southerly operations, where the only available option for landing traffic had been to travel to the end of the runway to exit.
The airport published a master plan for its development up to 2030 in November 2007, called "Towards 2030: Planning a Sustainable Future for Air Transport in the Midlands". This sets out details of changes to the terminals, airfield layout and off-site infrastructure. As with all large scale plans, the proposals are controversial, with opposition from environmentalists and local residents. In particular the requirement for a second parallel runway based on projected demand was disputed by opponents. Plans for a 2nd runway (a third when demand requires) on the other side of the M42 and a new terminal complex and business park have been published, and they could help to create around 250,000 jobs. It has been estimated that if these plans went ahead, the airport could handle around 70,000,000 passengers annually, and around 500,000 aircraft movements.
In January 2008, the shorter runway (06/24) was decommissioned. It had been used less often due to its short length, noise impact, and its inconvenient position crossing the main runway making it uneconomic to continue operation. The closure also allowed for apron expansion on both sides of the main runway. However it remains open as a taxiway and a helicopter airstrip. In the same month, plans for the extension of the airport runway and the construction of the new air traffic control tower were submitted to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.
In June 2008, work began on building the new three-storey International Pier. It was officially opened on 9 September 2009. As part of the airport's 70th anniversary, the airport welcomed the Airbus A380 as the first user of the pier. The special service was the first commercial A380 flight in the UK to take place outside London Heathrow Airport. The new pier is a three-storey construction, 240 metres long and 24 metres wide. Departing passengers will be accommodated on the top level, with arriving passengers on the middle level and office accommodation for airline and handling agents on the ground floor. The new facility provides air-bridged aircraft parking for seven wide-bodied aircraft and enough space to serve 13 smaller aircraft at any given time and is capable of accommodating 'next generation' environmentally-efficient wide-bodied aircraft such as the Airbus A380, Boeing 747-8, Boeing 777X and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The new pier also hosts a new lounge for business class Emirates passengers. In March 2009, the runway extension plans were approved.
Development since 2010Edit
In September 2010, an announcement was made that following the merging of Terminals 1 & 2 into a single building facility in 2011, the airport would drop the International from its official name to become Birmingham Airport. At the same time British Airways withdrew their flights from the Eurohub, and transferred them through Manchester, London-Gatwick and London-Heathrow airports. However, it was stated in the autumn of 2016 that British Airways stated that they were returning to Birmingham with seasonal summer flights to popular European destinations. In the summer of 2017, British Airways resumed operations from Birmingham Airport after a ten-year absence. A Midlands-based marketing agency was recruited to "create a new corporate identity that reflects Birmingham Airport's current position in the market place, as well as its future potential". Figures from Birmingham Airport show that 8 million people live within a one hour's drive of the airport, but less than 40% of them use it. It is hoped that the rebrand will make the airport "more visible to the market". In November 2010 the new name started to be used. The new logo, interlocking circles in shades of blue, and slogan, "Hello World", were designed to reflect the airport's new positioning as a global travel hub.
In January 2011 the spectators gallery, 'Aviation Experience And Gift Shop', above Terminal 1 closed indefinitely. In the same month, the airport merged its two terminals into a single Terminal Building. This involved building two new floors added to the airport's terminals. A new Lower Ground Floor accommodates the new Arrivals and Meet & Greet area. The 3rd floor was built in the Millennium Link and the two terminals to accommodate the new Centralised Security Search area. In July 2011 construction of a new control tower for the airport began, to replace the old tower which has stood at the airport since it was opened in 1939. The construction of the new air traffic control tower was completed in March 2012. In Summer 2012, the new air traffic control tower's equipment was installed and testing and training began.
On 23 February 2011 it was reported that Birmingham Airport had announced the High Speed 2 extension could be a solution to runway capacity problems in London, citing that will be quicker to get to London from Birmingham than from London Stansted once completed and claimed that the airport had capacity for nine million more passengers.
An Olympic ceremony was held at the airport on 23 April 2012. The Olympic rings were unveiled on the tower and could be seen from the A45 road and the main terminal building. This was to commemorate the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic games. These rings were removed once the Olympic Games officially closed, just before 2012 Summer Paralympics began.
In autumn 2012, construction of the runway extension began, whose original target was in time for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. The extension to the southern end of the runway originally required the A45 Coventry Road to be diverted into a tunnel under the extended section, but to cut immediate costs, it was diverted south of the runway instead. In Summer 2013 the new air traffic control tower became fully operational. and the old carriageway of the A45 road was closed and the new carriageway was opened. In May 2014, the 400-metre runway extension was officially opened. Improvement to the taxiways where completed a month after.
The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan increased its stake in the airport to 48.25% in early 2015. The Canadian institutional investor firm also has ownership in Bristol Airport (100%). Birmingham handled over 11.6 million passengers in 2016, a record total for the airport making it the seventh busiest UK airport.
On 28 September 2016, a £100 million of investment was given to the airport. It plans to put into place a new baggage handling systems, two new car parks including a drop-off car park.
In July 2018, Primera Air announced to terminate all operations in Birmingham gradually by October 2018. While the short-lived long-haul services already ended, some recently started or announced European leisure routes are called off.
Facilities and infrastructureEdit
Birmingham Airport currently features two interconnecting terminals labelled as Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Between the two terminals is the Millennium Link building which houses several shops, restaurants and service counters. In the terminals themselves, security areas, check-points and a large airside area equipped with more shops, restaurants and bars that are connected are located on the first floor and connect to 48 departure gates. Gates 1-20 in Terminal 2 and Gates 40-68 in Terminal 1. Terminal 2 features nine stands equipped with jet-bridges as well as three walk-boarding stands while Terminal 1 features 11 stands with jet-bridges of which some are able to handle wide-body aircraft.
Terminal 1 was open on 3 April 1984, seventeen years after the original plans to construct a new terminal to ease congestion in the original Elmdon Terminal (Grade II listed since August 2018 and used for private and official flights). Since then, T1 has been extended multiple times to accommodate the increase in both passenger numbers and aircraft movements.
Terminal 2 (also known as Eurohub) was opened in 1991. European carriers including Air France, BMI and KLM switched from T1 to T2 to focus on the "Hub & Spoke" model of air transport. British Airways also moved its European and domestic operations in to T2, leaving predominately international flights from BA and non-European carriers operating out from T1.
In 2000, the Millennium Link was constructed, interconnecting the terminals, allowing easier transfers between the two.
Plans for the extension of the airport's current runway, and the construction of the new air traffic control tower, were submitted to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in January 2008, and approved in March 2009. The construction of the runway extension, and the new air traffic control tower, began in March 2011. The extension to the southern end of the runway originally required the A45 Coventry Road to be diverted into a tunnel under the extended section, but to cut costs, it was diverted to the south of the runway. However, a tunnel under the runway's southern end is due for construction In the early 2020s when expansion to the south goes ahead. In August 2013, the old carriageway of the A45 road was closed, and the new carriageway was opened.
Originally, the target for completion was in time for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. However, work began in late 2012, and the runway was completed in early May 2014. The runway extension began to be used by aircraft in May 2014, and was officially opened on 22 July 2014, when China Southern Airlines operated its first charter flight between Birmingham and Beijing. This was the first aircraft that needed to make use of the new runway length. The extension caused controversy as more than 2000 local residents complained about the increased noise levels due to the new flight path around the airport that was required after the runway was extended.
Airlines and destinationsEdit
The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter services to and from Birmingham:
|FedEx Express||Manchester, Paris–Charles de Gaulle|
|Birmingham Airport Passenger Totals|
|Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority|
Busiest domestic routesEdit
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled||% change|
|8||Isle of Man||44,064||14.6|
Busiest international routesEdit
|Rank||Airport||Passengers handled||% Change|
|7||Palma de Mallorca||404,680||13.6|
|8||Paris–Charles de Gaulle||399,484||0.1|
Accidents and incidentsEdit
- 19 January 1973A Vickers Viscount passenger jet G-AZLR inbound from Leeds Bradford Airport suffered a severe port undercarriage failure upon landing.:
- 4 January 2002A Bombardier-CL604 business jet crashed on take-off from runway 15 at Birmingham. The aircraft with registration N90AG was on lease by AGCO corporation and was carrying two company executives, two pilots and an observer. After arriving from Palm Beach International Airport the previous evening, the aircraft was parked overnight at Birmingham where ice formed on the wings due to the cold weather conditions. The following morning the pilots did not request de-icing of the aircraft before their flight to Bangor Airport in Maine. The ice on the wings caused one wing to dip on take off, the aircraft inverted, crashed into grass beside the runway and caught fire. There were no survivors. Sleeping pills taken by both pilots the night before the crash are thought to have been a factor in reducing the pilots' judgment.:
- 23 February 2006Mahan Air Airbus A310 operating a flight from Tehran, Iran, was involved in a serious incident while on approach to Birmingham International Airport. The aircraft descended to the published minimum descent altitude of 740 ft despite still being 11 nm from the runway threshold. At a point 6 nm from the runway the aircraft had descended to an altitude of 660 ft, which was 164 ft above ground level. Having noticed the descent profile, Birmingham Air traffic control issued an immediate climb instruction to the aircraft, however, the crew had already commenced a missed approach, having received a GPWS alert. The aircraft was radar vectored for a second approach during which the flight crew again initiated an early descent. On this occasion, the radar controller instructed the crew to maintain their altitude and the crew successfully completed the approach to a safe landing. The accident investigation determined that the primary cause was use of the incorrect DME for the approach, combined with a substantial breakdown in Crew Resource Management. Three safety recommendations were made.:
- 15 June 2006A TNT Airways cargo 737-300 made an emergency landing at Birmingham with damaged landing gear. The aircraft, registration OO-TND, had been flying from Liege in Belgium to Stansted. Due to poor visibility at Stansted the flight diverted to East Midlands Airport. As the weather at East Midlands was also poor, the aircraft performed a full autopilot approach. During this approach the autopilot momentarily disengaged causing it to deviate from the course. The aircraft hit the grass to the side of the runway, which caused the right main gear to detach. The crew initiated a go-around, declared an emergency and diverted to Birmingham. After it landed on Birmingham's main runway, the airport was closed for a number of hours. The pilots were unharmed. However, the company ascribed the incident to human error and both pilots were dismissed. The official report into the accident highlighted a number of factors contributing to the accident – poor weather forecast information; a message passed from Air Traffic Control to the aircraft at an "inappropriate" time; the pilot accidentally disconnecting the autopilot when attempting to respond to the message; the pilot losing "situational awareness" and failing to abort the landing. Follow this link for a more detailed report and Official reports from the AAIB. : 
- 19 November 2010A Cessna Citation aircraft, registration G-VUEM, crashed at Birmingham Airport during final approach in thick fog. Reports from West Midlands Police were that there were two casualties, one critical. The aircraft was bringing a human liver from Belfast airport, for a transplant operation which was subsequently completed successfully. The airport reopened at around mid-day the following day. Follow this link for a more detailed report and Official reports from the AAIB. : 
- 6 June 2007The Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme exposed serious security flaws at Birmingham Airport over six months. Fifteen members of staff working for the security contractor "ICTS UK Ltd" were suspended and subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct. Members of security were filmed asleep on duty, reading magazines whilst operating x-ray scanners, leaving aircraft unguarded, and ignoring bags sent for extra security checks, as well as being understaffed. The security lapse was deemed so serious, that Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the US Congress Homeland Security Committee, commented on it in the United States Congress and advised that all flights to and from Birmingham Airport should cease. ICTS dismissed the members of staff shown in the programme for their actions, but still claimed that the footage had been "contrived to exaggerate and sensationalise" the issues.:
- 8 June 2009The West Midlands Police helicopter (G-WMAO) was destroyed by arsonists, and subsequently written off. A year later, a new Eurocopter EC135 similar to G-WMAO was handed over to West Midlands Police at the Farnborough Airshow. Thousands of pounds were subsequently spent upgrading security surrounding the police helicopter.: 
- 17 July 2014A member of the public got onto the airfield through a restricted area of the terminal by crawling through the opening of a baggage carousel and getting onto the airport's tarmac apron, and then got aboard a Lufthansa Embraer 195 plane. Hew as subsequently fined.: 
Birmingham Airport is served by Birmingham International railway station. The station is on the West Coast Main Line between Birmingham and London, and trains are operated by London North Western Railway, West Midlands Railway, Virgin Trains, Transport for Wales and CrossCountry. Access between the railway station and the airport terminal is provided by the free AirRail Link.
Proposed High Speed TwoEdit
As part of Phase 1 of the High Speed Two rail link, a new railway station called Birmingham Interchange will be built to serve both the airport and the National Exhibition Centre. The station will be built on the far side of the M42 motorway and connect to the airport using a "rapid transit people mover". High Speed Two is currently planned for completion by 2026.
Bus and coachEdit
National Express West Midlands operates the main bus routes calling at Birmingham Airport, those being the X1 to Birmingham city centre and Coventry, and the X12 to Chelmsley Wood and Solihull. Other smaller operators also call at the airport. Bus stops are situated outside Terminal One. Most buses are operated by National Express West Midlands, who do not give change when selling tickets, so foreign travellers will need to ensure they have British coins when taking a local bus. However adult daysavers can be purchased with euros for 5 euros.
Birmingham Airport is accessible from the north and south via Junction Six of the M42 motorway. From Birmingham city centre, the A45 runs directly to the airport. Charges apply in some areas even for very short periods of time, with locations farther from the airport being cheaper than those near the airport.
The only cycle route available heads south over the A45 travelling towards Solihull. Birmingham Airport have however published "recommended routes" for cyclists. Free short term cycle parking is available close to the terminal. For longer stays, bicycles must be stored in Left Luggage for a charge.
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