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Airport Birmingham (UK) - International

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Birmingham Airport
Airport typePublic
OwnerSeven Metropolitan Boroughs of West Midlands (49%), the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (48.25%) and employees (2.75%)[1]
OperatorBirmingham Airport Ltd
ServesBirmingham, United Kingdom
LocationBickenhill, Solihull, United Kingdom
Hub forFlybe[2]
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL341 ft / 104 m
Coordinates52°2714N 001°4453W / 52.45389°N 1.74806°W / 52.45389; -1.74806Coordinates: 52°2714N 001°4453W / 52.45389°N 1.74806°W / 52.45389; -1.74806
Location in the West Midlands
EGBB (the United Kingdom)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
15/33 3,052 10,013 Asphalt
Statistics (2018)
Passenger change 17184.2%
Aircraft Movements8.1%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[3]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[4]

Birmingham Airport (IATA: BHX, ICAO: EGBB), formerly Birmingham International Airport[5] and before that, Elmdon Airport, is an international airport located 7 nautical miles (13 km; 8.1 mi) east-southeast of Birmingham city centre, slightly north of Bickenhill in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, England. It has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P451) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. Passenger throughput in 2017 was over 12.9 million, making Birmingham the seventh busiest UK airport.[4][6] The airport offers both domestic flights within the UK and international flights to destinations in Europe, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, North America, and the Caribbean. Birmingham Airport is an operating base for Flybe, Jet2.com, Ryanair, TUI Airways and previously Thomas Cook Airlines.


Birmingham Airport is 5.5 NM (10.2 km; 6.3 mi) east-south-east of Birmingham city centre, in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull. It is bordered by the National Exhibition Centre to the east, Marston Green to the north, Sheldon to the west, the village of Bickenhill to the south, and the village of Elmdon to the south west.

It 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.


1920 to 1939

In 1928, the Birmingham City Council decided that the city required a municipal airport. Plans were submitted in 1933, identifying Elmdon as the site for the airport, delayed by the Great Depression.

On 8 July 1939 the Duchess of Kent, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark opened Elmdon Airport.[7] The airport was owned and operated by Birmingham City Council. Initial services flew to Croydon, Glasgow, Liverpool, Ryde, Shoreham, Manchester, and Southampton.

World War II

During World War II the airport was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and was used by the RAF and the Royal Navy as RAF Elmdon, 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 (753 m) and 15/33 at 4,170 feet (1,271 m).[8] 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. On 8 July 1948, the aerodrome returned to civilian use, though still under government control.

1950 to 2000

During the post-war years, public events, such as air fairs and air races were held on the site. In 1961, an additional terminal building to handle international traffic was opened, called The International Building.[9] The main runway was extended to 7,400 feet (1.4 miles) to allow jet operations, including introducing VC-10 services to New York in 1967.

The 620 metre Maglev rail link train between the airport terminal and nearby railway station opened in April 1984.[10] The Maglev rail link closed in 1995 after 11 years, following a string of breakdowns.

The government limited public sector borrowing applied in 1993. This meant that the airport could only expand by using private sector finance. 51% of the local council shares were sold to restructure the airport into a private sector company, enabling a £260 million restructuring programme to begin in 1997.

2001 to 2009

On 20 October 2003, Concorde made its final visit to Birmingham Airport as part of its farewell tour.

In June 2006, a new turnoff from the main runway was completed and saw an improvement in traffic rates on southerly operations; previously the only available exit option for landing traffic had been at the end of the runway.

The airport published a master plan for its development up to 2030 in November 2007, called "Towards 2030: Planning a Sustainable Future for Air Transport in the Midlands".[11] This set out details of changes to the terminals, airfield layout and off-site infrastructure. As with all large scale plans, the proposals were controversial, with opposition from environmentalists and local residents. In particular, the requirement for a second parallel runway based on projected demand was disputed by opponents. Plans for a second runway (a third when demand requires) on the other side of the M42 and a new terminal complex and business park have been published, and they could help to create around 250,000 jobs. It has been estimated that if these plans went ahead, the airport could handle around 70,000,000 passengers annually, and around 500,000 aircraft movements.[12]

In January 2008, the shorter runway (06/24) was decommissioned. It had been used less often due to its short length, noise impact, and its inconvenient position crossing the main runway, making it uneconomic to continue operation. The closure also allowed for apron expansion on both sides of the main runway. However runway 06/24 remains open as a taxiway and a helicopter airstrip.[13] In the same month, plans for the extension of the airport runway and the construction of a new air traffic control tower were submitted to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

In June 2008, work began on building the new three-storey International Pier. It was officially opened on 9 September 2009. As part of the airport's 70th anniversary, the airport welcomed the Airbus A380 as the first user of the pier. The special service was the first commercial A380 flight in the UK outside London Heathrow Airport. The new pier is 240 metres long and 24 metres wide. Departing passengers are accommodated on the top level, with arriving passengers on the middle level and office accommodation for airline and handling agents on the ground floor. The new facility provides air-bridged aircraft parking for seven wide-bodied aircraft and enough space for 13 smaller aircraft. It can accommodate 'next generation' environmentally-efficient wide-bodied aircraft such as the Airbus A380, the A340-600, the Boeing 747-8, and the Boeing 777X. The new pier also has a new lounge for business class Emirates passengers.[14] In March 2009, the runway extension plans were approved.[15]

Development since 2010

In September 2010, it was announced that after the merging of Terminals 1 and 2 into a single building facility in 2011, the airport would drop the "International" from its official name to become "Birmingham Airport'". [16] 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".[17] In November 2010 the new name started to be used.[18] 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.[19]

In January 2011 the spectators gallery, 'Aviation Experience And Gift Shop', above Terminal 1 closed indefinitely.[20] In the same month, the airport merged its two terminals into a single Terminal Building. This involved building two new floors. A new Lower Ground Floor accommodates the new Arrivals and Meet & Greet area. The 3rd floor was built in the Millennium Link and the two terminals to accommodate the new Centralised Security Search area. In July 2011 construction of a new control tower began,[21] to replace the old tower used since the airport opened in 1939. The new air traffic control tower was completed in March 2012. In summer 2012, the new air traffic control tower's equipment was installed and testing and training began.

On 23 February 2011 it was reported that Birmingham Airport had announced that the High Speed 2 extension could be a solution to runway capacity problems in London: they said it would be quicker to get to London from Birmingham than from LondonStansted once completed, and claimed that the airport had capacity for nine million more passengers.[22]

An Olympic ceremony was held at the airport on 23 April 2012. The Olympic rings were unveiled on the tower and could be seen from the A45 road and the main terminal building. This was to commemorate the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games. These rings were removed once the Olympic Games officially closed, just before the 2012 Summer Paralympics began.

In autumn 2012, construction of the runway extension began.[23][24] The extension to the southern end of the runway originally required the A45 Coventry Road to be diverted into a tunnel under the extended section, but to cut costs, it was diverted south of the runway instead.[25] In Summer 2013 the new air traffic control tower became fully operational;[21] the old carriageway of the A45 was closed and the new carriageway was opened.[26][27] In May 2014, the 400-metre runway extension was officially opened.[23] Improvements to the taxiways were completed one month later.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, a Canadian institutional investor, increased its stake in the airport to 48.25% in early 2015. It also owns 100% of Bristol Airport.[28] Birmingham handled over 11.6 million passengers in 2016, a record total for the airport, making it the seventh busiest UK airport.[4]

On 28 September 2016, £100 million of investment was allocated to the airport. It plans to put into place a new baggage handling systems and two new car parks, including a drop-off car park.[29]

Facilities and infrastructure


Birmingham Airport currently features two interconnecting terminals labelled as Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Between the two terminals is the Millennium Link building, constructed in 2000, which houses shops, restaurants and service counters. In the terminals themselves, security areas, check-points and a large airside area equipped with more shops, restaurants and bars are located on the first floor. There are 48 departure gates, with gates 120 located in Terminal 2 and gates 4068 in Terminal 1. Terminal 2 features nine stands equipped with jet-bridges as well as three walk-boarding stands while Terminal 1 features 11 stands with jet-bridges of which some are able to handle wide-body aircraft.

Terminal 1 was opened on 3 April 1984, seventeen years after the original plans to construct a new terminal to ease congestion in the original Elmdon Terminal (Grade II listed since August 2018 and used for private and official flights).[30][31] Since then, T1 has been extended multiple times to accommodate the increase in both passenger numbers and aircraft movements.

Terminal 2 (also known as Eurohub) was opened in 1991. European carriers including Air France, BMI and KLM switched from T1 to T2 to focus on the "Hub & Spoke" model of air transport. British Airways also moved its European and domestic operations in to T2, leaving predominately international flights from BA and non-European carriers operating out from T1.


Plans for the extension of the airport's current runway, and the construction of the new air traffic control tower, were submitted to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council in January 2008, and approved in March 2009.[15] The construction of the runway extension, and the new air traffic control tower, began in March 2011. The extension to the southern end of the runway originally required the A45 Coventry Road to be diverted into a tunnel under the extended section, but to cut costs, it was diverted to the south of the runway. However, a tunnel under the runway's southern end is due for construction In the early 2020s when expansion to the south goes ahead. In August 2013, the old carriageway of the A45 road was closed, and the new carriageway was opened.[26][27]

Originally, the target for completion was in time for the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics. However, work began in late 2012, and the runway was completed in early May 2014.[32] The runway extension began to be used by aircraft in May 2014, and was officially opened on 22 July 2014, when China Southern Airlines operated its first charter flight between Birmingham and Beijing. This was the first aircraft that needed to make use of the new runway length. The extension caused controversy as more than 2000 local residents complained about the increased noise levels due to the new flight path around the airport that was required after the runway was extended.[32]

Airlines and destinations


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter services to and from Birmingham:[33]

Aer Lingus Dublin
Aer Lingus Regional Cork, Dublin, Shannon
Air Arabia Maroc Agadir
Air France ParisCharles de Gaulle
Air India Amritsar,[34] Delhi
Air Malta Seasonal: Malta
Austrian Airlines Vienna
Seasonal charter: Innsbruck[35]
BH Air Seasonal: Burgas
Blue Air Bucharest, Larnaca (ends 26 October 2019)[36]
Brussels Airlines Brussels
Czech Airlines Prague
easyJet BelfastInternational, Edinburgh (begins 29 March 2020),[37] Geneva, Glasgow (begins 29 March 2020)[38]
easyJet Switzerland Geneva
Emirates DubaiInternational
Eurowings Düsseldorf, Vienna
Flybe[39] Aberdeen, Amsterdam, BelfastCity, BerlinTegel, Düsseldorf, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guernsey, Hamburg (ends 25 October 2019),[40] Hanover (ends 25 October 2019),[40] Inverness, Isle of Man, Jersey, Knock, MilanMalpensa, ParisCharles de Gaulle, Stuttgart
Seasonal: Avignon, Bastia, Bergerac, Biarritz, Bordeaux, Brest, Chambéry, Geneva, La Rochelle, Nantes, Newquay
Seasonal charter: Innsbruck,[41] Kefalonia,[42] Lleida, Preveza/Lefkada,[43] Turin[42]
Iberia Express Madrid
Jet2.com Alicante, Antalya, Budapest (begins 8 November 2019),[44] Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Kraków, Lanzarote, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Prague, RomeFiumicino, TenerifeSouth
Seasonal: Almería, Bergerac,[45] Bodrum, Burgas,[46] Chania,[47] Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Geneva, Girona, Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Innsbruck (begins 21 December 2019),[48] zmir,[45] Kefalonia (begins 6 May 2020),[47] Kos, Larnaca, Malta, Menorca, Murcia (begins 22 May 2020),[47] Naples, Nice (begins 22 May 2020),[47] Pisa, Preveza/Lefkada (begins 24 May 2020),[49] Pula,[45] Reus, Rhodes, Salzburg, Split, Thessaloniki, Turin, Venice, Verona,[45] Vienna, Zakynthos
KLM Amsterdam
Lauda Vienna (begins 29 October 2019)[50]
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Pakistan International Airlines Islamabad
Qatar Airways Doha
Ryanair Alicante, Barcelona, Bratislava, Bydgoszcz, Dublin, Faro, Fuerteventura, Gdask, Gran Canaria, Katowice, Kraków, Lanzarote, Madrid, Málaga, Malta, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca, Porto, Sofia, TenerifeSouth, Verona, WarsawModlin
Seasonal: Chania, Corfu, Girona, Ibiza, Perpignan, Reus
Scandinavian Airlines Copenhagen
Swiss International Air Lines Zürich
Titan Airways Seasonal charter: Chambéry,[51] Lourdes/Tarbes[51]
TUI Airways[52] Agadir, Alicante, Boa Vista, Cancún, Enfidha, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Hurghada, Lanzarote, Málaga, Marrakesh, Marsa Alam (begins 16 December 2019),[53] Montego Bay, Paphos, Sal, TenerifeSouth
Seasonal: Alghero, Antalya, Barbados, Bodrum, Burgas, Catania, Chania, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Faro, Girona, Heraklion, Ibiza, zmir, Kavala, Kefalonia, Kos, Langkawi,[54] Larnaca, Malta, Menorca, Naples, Orlando/Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, PattayaU-Tapao,[54] Podgorica, Porto Santo, Pula, Punta Cana, Reus, Rhodes, Rovaniemi, Salzburg, Santorini, Skiathos, Thessaloniki, Verona, Zakynthos
Seasonal charter: Chambéry,[51] Innsbruck,[51] Kuusamo,[51] Sofia,[51] Toulouse,[51] Turin[51]
Turkish Airlines Istanbul
Vueling Barcelona
Wizz Air Bucharest, Budapest, Cluj-Napoca,[55] Kraków,[56] Pozna,[57] WarsawChopin, Wrocaw
FedEx Express Manchester,[58] ParisCharles de Gaulle[59]


Passenger figures
Number of
Number of
Birmingham Airport Passenger Totals
20002018 (millions)
1997 6,025,485 79,880
1998 6,709,086 88,332
1999 7,013,913 98,749
2000 7,596,893 108,972
2001 7,808,562 111,008
2002 8,027,730 112,284
2003 9,079,172 116,040
2004 8,862,388 109,202
2005 9,381,425 112,963
2006 9,147,384 108,658
2007 9,226,340 114,679
2008 9,627,589 112,227
2009 9,102,899 101,221
2010 8,572,398 95,454
2011 8,616,296 93,145
2012 8,922,539 92,632
2013 9,120,201 95,713
2014 9,705,955 97,346
2015 10,187,122 98,015
2016 11,645,334 113,184
2017 12,983,436 122,067
2018 12,445,295 104,492
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[4]
Busiest routes

Accidents and incidents

  • 19 January 1973 (1973-01-19): A Vickers Viscount passenger jet G-AZLR inbound from Leeds Bradford Airport suffered a severe port undercarriage failure upon landing.[62]
  • 23 February 2006 (2006-02-23): Mahan Air Airbus A310 operating a flight from Tehran, Iran, was involved in a serious incident while on approach to Birmingham International Airport. The aircraft descended to the published minimum descent altitude of 740 ft despite still being 11 nm from the runway threshold. At a point 6 nm from the runway the aircraft had descended to an altitude of 660 ft, which was 164 ft above ground level. Having noticed the descent profile, Birmingham air traffic control issued an immediate climb instruction to the aircraft, however, the crew had already commenced a missed approach, having received a GPWS alert. The aircraft was radar vectored for a second approach during which the flight crew again initiated an early descent. On this occasion, the radar controller instructed the crew to maintain their altitude and the crew successfully completed the approach to a safe landing. The accident investigation determined that the primary cause was use of the incorrect DME for the approach, combined with a substantial breakdown in the Crew Resource Management. Three safety recommendations were made.[63]
  • 15 June 2006 (2006-06-15): A TNT Airways cargo 737-300 made an emergency landing at Birmingham with damaged landing gear.[64] The aircraft, registration OO-TND, had been flying from Liège in Belgium to LondonStansted. Due to poor visibility at Stansted the flight diverted to East Midlands Airport. As the weather at East Midlands was also poor, the aircraft performed a full autopilot approach. During this approach the autopilot momentarily disengaged causing it to deviate from the course. The aircraft hit the grass to the side of the runway, which caused the right main gear to detach. The crew initiated a go-around, declared an emergency and diverted to Birmingham. After it landed on Birmingham's main runway, the airport was closed for a number of hours. The pilots were unharmed.[65] However, the company ascribed the incident to human error and both pilots were dismissed.[66] The official report into the accident highlighted a number of factors contributing to the accident poor weather forecast information; a message passed from the Air Traffic Control to the aircraft at an "inappropriate" time; the pilot accidentally disconnecting the autopilot when attempting to respond to the message; the pilot losing "situational awareness" and failing to abort the landing.[67] Follow this link for a more detailed report and Official reports from the AAIB.[68]
  • 19 November 2010 (2010-11-19): A Cessna Citation aircraft, registration G-VUEM, crashed at Birmingham Airport during final approach in thick fog. Reports from West Midlands Police were that there were two casualties, one critical. The aircraft was bringing a human liver from Belfast airport, for a transplant operation which was subsequently completed successfully.[69] The airport reopened at around mid-day the following day. Follow this link for a more detailed report and Official reports from the AAIB.[70]

Security incidents

  • 6 June 2007 (2007-06-06): The Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme exposed serious security flaws at Birmingham Airport over six months. Fifteen members of staff working for the security contractor "ICTS UK Ltd" were suspended and subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct.[71] Members of security were filmed asleep on duty, reading magazines whilst operating x-ray scanners, leaving aircraft unguarded, and ignoring bags sent for extra security checks, as well as being understaffed. The security lapse was deemed so serious, that Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the US Congress Homeland Security Committee, commented on it in the United States Congress and advised that all flights to and from Birmingham Airport should cease.[72] ICTS dismissed the members of staff shown in the programme for their actions, but still claimed that the footage had been "contrived to exaggerate and sensationalise" the issues.[73]
  • 8 June 2009 (2009-06-08): The West Midlands Police helicopter (G-WMAO) was destroyed by arsonists,[74] and subsequently written off.[75] A year later, a new Eurocopter EC135 similar to G-WMAO was handed over to West Midlands Police at the Farnborough Airshow. Thousands of pounds were subsequently spent upgrading security surrounding the police helicopter.[76]
  • 17 July 2014 (2014-07-17): A member of the public got onto the airfield through a restricted area of the terminal by crawling through the opening of a baggage carousel and getting onto the airport's tarmac apron, and then got aboard a Lufthansa Embraer 195 plane. He was subsequently fined.[77][78]

Ground transport

Public transport


Birmingham Airport is served by Birmingham International railway station. The station is on the West Coast Main Line between Birmingham and London, and trains are operated by West Midlands Trains, Virgin Trains, TfW Rail, and CrossCountry. Access between the railway station and the airport terminal is provided by free AirRail Link.[79]

Proposed High Speed 2

As part of Phase 1 of the High Speed 2 rail link, a new railway station called Birmingham Interchange will be built to serve both the airport and the National Exhibition Centre. The station will be built on the far side of the M42 motorway and connect to the airport using a "rapid transit people mover". High Speed 2 is currently planned for completion by 2026.[80]

Bus and coach

National Express West Midlands operates the main bus routes calling at Birmingham Airport, those being the X1 to Birmingham city centre and Coventry, and the X12 to Chelmsley Wood and Solihull.[81] Other smaller operators also call at the airport. Bus stops are situated outside Terminal One.[82] Most buses are operated by National Express West Midlands.[83]

National Express Coaches operates various long distance coaches calling at Birmingham Airport on the way to or from Birmingham Coach Station, such as the 777 and the 422.


Black cabs are available at the taxi-rank outside the arrivals area of the terminal.


Birmingham Airport is accessible from the north and south via Junction Six of the M42 motorway. From Birmingham city centre, the A45 runs directly to the airport. Charges apply in some areas even for very short periods of time, with locations farther from the airport being cheaper than those near the airport.


The only cycle route available heads south over the A45 travelling towards Solihull. Birmingham Airport has however published "recommended routes" for cyclists.[84] Free short term cycle parking is available close to the terminal. For longer stays, bicycles must be stored in the Left Luggage for a charge.[85]

See also


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External links

Media related to Birmingham Airport at Wikimedia Commons

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