THE recession has put paid to hopes of substantially increasing the number of passengers using Birmingham International Airport in the near future, according to its chief executive.
Paul Kehoe said growth had ground to a halt and the airport was expected to miss its target of reaching 18 million passengers by 2017.
But he made clear BIA intended to press ahead with plans to extend its runway so it can handle long haul flights.
Giving evidence to a Parliamentary inquiry, Mr Kehoe, who took over as BIA’s boss last July, told MPs many airports were suffering even more than Birmingham from the economic downturn.
“What we are seeing in the UK as a whole is a decline in traffic,” he said. “The trend over the past three months is down 10 per cent. So Manchester is down 10 per cent and Gatwick.
“Birmingham is flatter and there is only one reason and that’s the arrival of Ryanair, who came last summer. That actually stablised our traffic. So we are at zero growth at the moment.”
Mr Kehoe admitted it would not be possible to meet a passenger target figure he had set when he became chief executive of BIA.
“In terms of our business plan and 2017, I think we are going to be ambitious and say 18 million by 2020 now, all things being equal, and the start of growth will occur in 2011/2012.”