Birmingham Airport

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County Warwickshire
Location SP176837
52°27’6"N, 1°44’29"W

Birmingham Airport, formerly known as Birmingham International Airport[1] is an airport located 6.3 miles (5.5 nautical miles) east-southeast of Birmingham city centre, at Bickenhill in Warwickshire. The airport is a base for Flybe, Monarch, Ryanair, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways.

The airport offers both domestic flights within the United Kingdom, and international flights to destinations in Europe, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, North America and the Caribbean. After handling a record 9.6 million passengers in 2008, passenger numbers declined to around 8.9 million in 2012, making Birmingham the seventh busiest airport in the United Kingdom.

Birmingham has CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction.

The apron at Birmingham Airport


Birmingham Airport is 6.3 miles (5.5 nautical miles) east-south-east of Birmingham city centre, close to Bickenhill, north of Solihull and at the very edge of Birmingham's conurbation, with townscape on three sides. It is bordered by the National Exhibition Centre to the east, Marston Green to the north, Sheldon to the west, and the village of Bickenhill to the south.

The airport 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.


1920s to 1939

  • 1928: Birmingham City Council decided that the city required a municipal airport.
  • 1933: Plans were submitted, identifying Elmdon as the site for the airport, delayed by the Great Depression.
  • 8 July 1939: Duchess of Kent opened Elmdon Airport.[2] The airport was owned and operated by Birmingham City Council. Initial services flew to Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Ryde, Shoreham, Manchester and Southampton.

Second World War

  • Second World War: The airport was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and was used by the RAF and the Royal Navy as 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 and 15/33 at 4,170 feet (1,271 m).[3] 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.
  • 8 July 1946: The aerodrome returned to civilian use, though still under government control.


After the war years, public events, such as air fairs and air races were held on the site.

  • 1 January 1960: The City of Birmingham took over responsibility again.
  • 1 April 1960: The City of Birmingham assumed full responsibility.[4]
  • 1961: An additional terminal building to handle international traffic was opened, called The International Building.
  • 1967: The main runway was extended to 7,400 feet (1.4 miles) to allow jet operations, including introducing VC-10 services to New York.
  • 1970: The Birmingham Corporation Act 1970 gave the corporation the power to attest constables for the airport, creating the Birmingham Airport Police.
Part of Terminal 1, the runway beyond

1980s - 2000

  • 4 April 1984: The current airport was first used. A new terminal was opened on the east side of the runway adjacent to the Birmingham International railway station and the National Exhibition Centre, able to handle three million passengers a year.
  • 30 May 1984: Queen Elizabeth II opened it.[5]
    It included a Maglev Airport Rapid Transit system, running between the airport and Birmingham International railway station on a 1,969-foot track,[6] was closed due to high cost and problems sourcing parts.
    The original Art Deco 1939 terminal and control tower are still visible and are in use as aviation related offices, near hangars to the west of the runway.
  • 1986: Ownership of the Airport transferred to the newly formed West Midlands Joint Airport Committee, comprising the seven West Midlands district councils. Shortly after this, the Airports Act 1986 was introduced, requiring municipal airports with turnover greater than £1m to become Public Airport Companies.
  • 1 April 1987: Ownership of the airport was transferred to Birmingham International Airport plc, although still owned by the seven district councils.
  • 26 July 1991: A second terminal, "Eurohub", opened (with Concorde in attendance), more than doubling the airport's capacity. This second terminal was designed for the use of British Airways and its partners as part of a "hub and spoke" system whereby aircraft would arrive in waves from domestic and European destinations and allowed easy transfers so that a passenger from, say Edinburgh, could connect to a range of European destinations. During the 1980s and 1990s, British Airways also operated a service to New York-JFK, and for a short time Toronto-Pearson as well. the routs where axed but returned to service shortly after the 2012 Olympics.
  • 1993: The Government limited public sector borrowing. This meant that the airport could only expand by using private sector finance. 51% of the local authority shares were sold to restructure the airport into a private sector company, enabling a £260 million restructuring programme to begin in 1997.
  • 1995: The Maglev Airport Rapid Transit system[6] was closed due to high cost and problems sourcing parts.

2000 to 2010

The AirRail Link to the railway station
Part of the Terminal 2 apron, the runway is seen beyond.
  • 3 March 2000: The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the £40 million redevelopment of the airport. The redevelopment introduced a new customs and immigration hall, twelve new shops, a new baggage reclaim area, a new arrivals concourse, a new pier with three air bridges, sixteen new check-in desks in Terminal 1. They also linked Terminal One with Terminal Two (previously "Eurohub") for the first time with the newly built Millennium Link. Following on from this, a total of £18 million was spent on a replacement for the Maglev; the AirRail Link people mover, which was the first in the world to be used at an airport. Along with this, the public transport interchange was built to extend Birmingham International railway station for airport users. This has since been named Birmingham International Interchange.
  • 2000: Emirates launched a new service to Dubai, eventually going twice daily in 2005.
  • 20 October 2003: Concorde made her final visit to Birmingham Airport on as part of her farewell tour.
  • July 2007: Birmingham was voted the best airport in Europe in the 5 million to 10 million passengers per year category.[7]
  • January 2008: The shorter runway (06/24) was decommissioned.
  • 9 September 2009: A new three story International Pier opened.

2010 - present

In September 2010 an announcement was made that following the merging of Terminals 1 & 2 in 2011, the airport would drop the International from its official name to become Birmingham Airport. 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".[8] However, the new name was used from November 2010.[9] 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.[10]

In January 2011, the airport merged its two terminals into a Single Terminal Building. This involved the construction of two new floors been added to the airports terminals and Millennium Link. The 3rd floor was built in the Millennium Link (also in the two terminals) accommodating the new Centralised Security Search area and the Lower Ground Floor, accommodating the new Arrivals and Meeting & Greeting (Meet & Greet)area. there are also plans to extend both terminals, adding an additional Departures and Arrivals.

High Speed Two

As part of the proposed High Speed Two rail link, a new railway station called Birmingham Interchange would be built to serve both the airport and the National Exhibition Centre. The station would be built on the far side of the M42 motorway and connect to the airport using a "rapid transit people mover".

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Birmingham Airport)


  1. "We're Saying 'Hello World' As We Relaunch Our Brand". Birmingham Airport. 
  2. "BIRMINGHAM - British Pathe". Retrieved 11 November 2011. 
  3. "The History of Birmingham International Airport". Birmingham International Airport. Retrieved 2008-04-29. 
  4. The Aeroplane and Astronautics. Temple Press. 1959. p. 252. 
  5. [1]
  6. 6.0 6.1 Vladimir Zakian (2005). Control Systems Design: A New Framework. Springer. p. 328. ISBN 1-85233-913-6. 
  7. "Birmingham Airport Award". Airports Council International. Retrieved 2007-11-27. 
  8. "New Agency to Manage Rebrand Announced". 
  9. "Birmingham Airport (home page)". Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  10. Communicate magazine Birmingham Airport says 'Hello' to a new identity, Communicate magazine, November 2010