A WEEK before Solihull planners consider Birmingham International Airport's plans for a runway extension, BIA boss Paul Kehoe made an impassioned plea for backing for the scheme.
He said he wanted the West Midlands to get the ideal Christmas gift by the £130m project being given the go ahead - and he emphasised its importance to the region.
The proposed 400-metre extension, the length of four football pitches, could add four million passengers a year to the airport, said BIA's chief executive, enabling flights to destinations such as China and the west coast of America.
He added: "Being able to fly from Birmingham could take millions of cars off the roads by clawing back Midlands-based traffic from other UK airports. Without it, investors could go elsewhere. It's happened before."
Forecasts show that growth at BIA will occur with or without a lengthened runway but, of the 27 million passengers projected to travel through Birmingham by 2030, four million would be as a result of the expansion.
"Even by 2030, the extra departures as a result of an extension will only total 23 a day," said Mr Kehoe.
Solihull Council planning officials have recommended the authority to back BIA's application and a decision will be taken by councillors next Monday.
Opponents of the runway extension, including environmental campaigners who claim it will cause significantly higher carbon emissions, are expected to turn up in force for next Monday's meeting to register their protest.