THE chief executive of Birmingham International Airport is confident the proposed runway extension will be given the green light as early as the end of this month.
Speaking at the Solihull Chamber of Commerce AGM at the St John’s Hotel last Friday, Paul Kehoe said: “We haven’t got our planning permission yet but I think we will get it on the 31st of this month.”
Mr Kehoe said it would be a further year or more before they would start “putting the concrete in”.
Funding for the multi-million-pound scheme will come from investment by BIA backed by Government cash.
Mr Kehoe estimates an enlarged airport could deliver a £2.5 billion uplift to the regional economy, adding that the scheme needed the backing of the business community and its potential customer base to succeed.
In particular he urged Solihull businesses to back BIA and issued a stinging attack on British Airways, who he accused of leaving Birmingham Airport “in the lurch” after it quit BIA.
“Turn your backs on BA and say we are supporting our airport - a local airport for local people,” Mr Kehoe said.
He also called on the eight million people living within an hour of the airport to use it too, adding: “Only 36 per cent of local people use it. They leave in their droves for other airports but if we can capture them back we can make a significant economic input.”
With airports hit by declining passenger numbers in the current economic downturn, Mr Kehoe said Birmingham was bucking the trend, something he attributed to “the luck of the Irish” - namely the decision by Ryanair to be based at Birmingham.
Dismissing the threat of an enlarged Heathrow and a high speed rail link making it more easily accessible to Midlanders he said: “Forget runway three, they will be squabbling over that for years. We can get on and build ours properly.”