A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Birmingham Airport not fully used by Midlanders

It's a crazy world. The West Midlands has a perfectly good airport at Birmingham, yet of the 8 million people living within one hour’s drive of it, less than 40% currently use Birmingham. They would prefer to fight their way down to Heathrow or tootle up to Manchester or wherever. No wonder the Heathrow lobby has so much up its sleeve.

One of the problems is a throwback to the seventies and the way the charter holiday business treats Gatwick as THE airport and stuffs the rest with grossly distorting flight supplements. They've got a hackneyed explanation about planes, fuel and the rest, but it is mostly just spivvy talk for getting in extra revenue.

Birmingham Airport can get you to anywhere in the world. In fact, what Heathrow does, Birmingham can do as well. So, ok, not so many direct routes, but then if you live close to BHX why would you want to trek down to Heathrow? The extra hassle, money and time just make it all a total waste of time. We are supposed to be trying to unclog our roads, yet there are still many willing to chase a cheap ticket costing half as much as it does to get to the check-in desk. It's all crazy. Local airports should be the first priority for local people.

Jo Lloyd, Birmingham Airport’s Head of Brand, says, "We need to make ourselves more visible to this market." Meaning the local 8 million Midlanders. Well, I hope I've done my bit. By the way, just as a declaration, I've got no interest in the airport other than to see it prosper as an amenity for us in this part of the world (that is, the Brummie Hinterland).

Here's a comparison to make a point. Birmingham to Atlanta cost around £375 currently, give or take, with either Delta, Air France or KLM via Paris or Amsterdam. Heathrow offers a direct route and costs around £345 currently. So the difference is £30! Great - try getting to the check-in at Heathrow for that amount. I suppose, though, that if it's a group of four or more it just might swing it, but what a hassle. No wonder these airline programmes can get so many grumpy participants.


With respect, what choice do they have?

A good idea might be for B'ham airport to actually start - oh, I don't know - flying to some destinations? For example, if you want to fly to the USA, you can. As long as it's Newark, NJ and at Continental's very expensive fares. You can't fly to anything like the number of destinations as London or even Manchester. Yet the West Midlands region has over 5 million people on it. Last time I checked, there were no flights in winter to Toronto!

Try flying (direct) to Goa from Birmingham. Or Moscow. Or Strasbourg.

It is an under-developed and under-used airport, and the passengers are NOT to blame!

My point was that it is a waste of time and money for West Midlanders to trek down to Heathrow when they can fly to all these destinations. OK, not all direct flights, but then Heathrow doesn't fly to as many direct destinations as Manchester.

One can fly to the USA via AMS, CDG and FRA for very good prices. Toronto too. £1.70 on the bus to Birmingham Airport. An arm and a leg to Heathrow, plus possible frustration. If you go by car, you've got to pay for the parking. You could get stuck on the M25! If you go by train, you've got to get out to Heathrow from central London. For the time it takes to get down to Heathrow one could be in Amsterdam. Less fuss, less hassle. I'd have thought it was a no brainer. I've sat in a car watching the planes land or take off wondering who ever thought the M25 was well designed. But, as they say in Yorkshire "there's nowt so queer as folk!".

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