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Birmingham solves Heathrow's capacity problem

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Birmingham solves Heathrow's capacity problem

Old 6th Jun 2012, 12:42
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Birmingham solves Heathrow's capacity problem

I'd always thought that, aside from their impenetrable accents, Brummies at least lived on the same planet as the rest of us.

But apparently not ...

Birmingham Airport Head of Government and Industry Affairs, John Morris: "You could take out 10% of capacity at Heathrow if Birmingham served passengers where they are [because] 3.3 million passengers a year clog roads travelling from the Midlands to Heathrow."

Ignoring for a moment the fact that 3.3 million pax pa doesn't represent anything like 10% of Heathrow's traffic, does the guy have any conception of how hubs operate ?

Has he ever stopped to wonder why airlines aren't already using all that spare capacity at BHX to fly direct to the hundred or so destinations that Heathrow serves but BHX doesn't ?

Hang on though, of course he hasn't, he's from Birmingham ...
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 12:48
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This is a little unfair - and I'm not from BHX, don't even much like the place - for the following reasons. This was discussed in another thread called, I think, Heathwick, not long ago.

BHX has a lot of spare capacity. It's catchment area is huge, and if they were to build HS2 it would be very easily reachable from the west side of London. If the UK had a joined up transport policy and was not Londoncentric, BHX could work as a major hub.
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 12:52
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It's not a Brummy thing, Aurigny tried the same logic... They put more midlands flights on to Guernsey and reduced the Southampton usage, on the basis people were ignoring their more local airport in favour of Sou. The customers won in then end and the changes were reversed.

I can only imagine accountants are making decisions. lol
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 13:38
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Ignoring for a moment the fact that 3.3 million pax pa doesn't represent anything like 10% of Heathrow's traffic
This is a never ending debate which really just needs a single "LONDON - all airports - strategy" thread, but a quick note on the stats.

If those 3.3m people drive down to Heathrow, they will presumably generate an out and return leg, so that would be 6.6m pax, which is indeed very close to 10% of LHR capacity.

I presume they then teleport it back to the Midlands.

I don't agree with Mr Morris on this subject, but we converse on twitter and credit where it is due, he is passionate about his airport, not just another corporate dullard!
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 13:59
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Jaibird

The Govt much delayed aviation paper was due out this summer,now looks like further delayed until the autumn I think.

Various Govt ministers have been to BHX recently saying it is well placed for expansion.

We will therefore see whether it gets any Govt help, or its just two fingers,and full of gobbley de gook and nothing conctete..hmm know what my monies on !

Nigel
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 14:09
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BHX could work as a major hub
Would you like to have a punt at who the hub airline might be? (Given that a major hub will have one dominant player, with a mix of domestic, short, medium and long haul spokes).
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 16:19
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If those 3.3m people drive down to Heathrow, they will presumably generate an out and return leg, so that would be 6.6m pax, which is indeed very close to 10% of LHR capacity.
6.6 million sounds very high, in fact even 3.3m does. CAA stats show the West Midlands accounting for around 2.5% of Heathrow originating traffic (6.6m equates to almost 15%).

But whatever the figure, it's hard to see how that would support a whole bunch of new direct services from BHX, which is what's being proposed.
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 17:06
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Quote: "BHX has a lot of spare capacity. It's catchment area is huge, and if they were to build HS2 it would be very easily reachable from the west side of London. If the UK had a joined up transport policy and was not Londoncentric, BHX could work as a major hub."

Londoncentric is not the reason in this case, although there is no doubt that UK is a very centralised country, generally speaking.

Commercial considerations are preventing BHX's expansion as a major hub, not government intervention, apart from APD of course, but that effects all UK's airports. Government intervention is concentrated on strangling LHR, by not allowing its expansion.

BHX does not work as a major hub because no airline can make enough money (or has the perception that it cannot make enough money) from either (a) setting up a hub there, or (b) running a long haul service to its own hub, with the exception of EK and transatlantic of course.

BHX has good short haul and transatlantic links, but apart from that very little longhaul. Once the runway is extended, if money is to be made, the carriers will be there (assuming bi-lateral rights, etc.). However, in any queue to establish non-LHR hubs, MAN is probably ahead.

Quote: "6.6 million sounds very high, in fact even 3.3m does. CAA stats show the West Midlands accounting for around 2.5% of Heathrow originating traffic (6.6m equates to almost 15%)."

Even if BHX becomes a major hub, there always be some "West Midlands" based pax using LHR, as it will always have a wider range of destinations.

Last edited by Fairdealfrank; 6th Jun 2012 at 17:09.
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 17:20
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Oh, this one again.

Birmingham was fortunate to have a British Airways base for many years, who tried and tried to market their services and lost money, often bucketfuls of it, every single year. In the end they dropped them over to FlyBe, who have sort of bumped along the bottom with profitability, nothing spectacular.

Many of those they quote who go down to Heathrow are headed, a few at a time, for Cape Town, Minneapolis, Moscow, Cairo, etc, etc. Do we really believe they would all get direct services from Birmingham ? And as the airport has capacity, why haven't they been started ?

Why are there no Air France intercontinental services from Lyon (France's second city) ? Why are there no Lufthansa intercontinental services from Hamburg or Berlin (Germany's first and second cities) ? Because non-hub operations do not work financially. Get used to it.
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 17:23
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BHX has good short haul and transatlantic links
If a "not quite daily, year round" operation to Newark NJ constitutes good transatlantic links then that must make the twice daily all year round operation from Dubai positively stupendous!

BHX has abysmal transatlantic connections, and actually scores better in the oposite direction, with not only EK, but also PIA and Turkmenistan offering regular services.

The problem with BHX being the answer to LHR's capacity problems is that "London Airways" has no interest whatsoever in developing European, let alone long haul service. Virgin seems similarly disinterested.
Until the "Londoncentricity" of the UK is reversed I'm afraid that all other cities, and their airports, will be under used.
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 17:39
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Birmingham Airport Head of Government and Industry Affairs, John Morris: "You could take out 10% of capacity at Heathrow if Birmingham served passengers where they are [because] 3.3 million passengers a year clog roads travelling from the Midlands to Heathrow."
BHX has a lot of spare capacity. It's catchment area is huge, and if they were to build HS2 it would be very easily reachable from the west side of London. If the UK had a joined up transport policy and was not Londoncentric, BHX could work as a major hub.
Also unfortunately means that those 3.3 Mil could get TO London without clogging up the roads.....and with MAN just a short blast up the M6 (depending on traffic...and the M6 can be total cack I admit ! )

As much as I would like to see Midlands regional airports having a wider reach around the world.....in this day and age, I can't see it
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 17:56
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Quote:Oh, this one again.

Birmingham was fortunate to have a British Airways base for many years, who tried and tried to market their services and lost money, often bucketfuls of it, every single year. In the end they dropped them over to FlyBe, who have sort of bumped along the bottom with profitability, nothing spectacular.

Many of those they quote who go down to Heathrow are headed, a few at a time, for Cape Town, Minneapolis, Moscow, Cairo, etc, etc. Do we really believe they would all get direct services from Birmingham ? And as the airport has capacity, why haven't they been started ?

Why are there no Air France intercontinental services from Lyon (France's second city) ? Why are there no Lufthansa intercontinental services from Hamburg or Berlin (Germany's first and second cities) ? Because non-hub operations do not work financially. Get used to it.

Nice one WHBM, you’ve made the point much better than I did!

Quote:The problem with BHX being the answer to LHR's capacity problems is that "London Airways" has no interest whatsoever in developing European, let alone long haul service. Virgin seems similarly disinterested.”

Read my previous post, ATNotts: they can’t ,or have reason to believe that they can’t, make money from a BHX base. Don’t like it anymore than you, but it’s a fact, and not a difficult concept to grasp.

Could it be that they’re “Londoncentric” as you put it because the country is so highly centralised? That being the case, blame governments, big business and "the establishment", not carriers and airport operators.

"As much as I would like to see Midlands regional airports having a wider reach around the world.....in this day and age, I can't see it"

Agree, Beer_n_Tabs, 100%!

Last edited by Fairdealfrank; 6th Jun 2012 at 17:58.
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 18:15
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Hamburg or Berlin (Germany's first and second cities)
Berlin may be German's capital city - it's not the 1st (most important) which businesswise is Frankfurt am Main. I would also question by what yardstick Hamburg is the 2nd German city - it's certainly the biggest port city, but I would have said that, again, businesswise probably Munich and Stuttgart are more important.

Whatever, even if BER and HAM don't have a network of intercontinental services flown by Lufthansa, they do have a much more comprehensive network of European services - most German airports do - than their UK equivalents. This is because Germany is a federal country, where the states (Laender) are roughly equal in importance, and all the state governments are really interested in growth of, and support for, their economies. To see how federalism works look how Edinburgh airport's scheduled network has grown since it became a "proper" capital city where the Scottish government sits, and wealds real power.

You have to look to France for a country that is similar to the UK, where Paris is all dominant, and hence Lyon, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Strassburg etc don't have proper direct links to many principal cities by the National carrier - who could justifiably be referred to a "Paris Airways". Mind you, even in France their is a proper high speed rail network joining provincial cities to the metropolis - something the UK still doesn't have!

Last edited by ATNotts; 6th Jun 2012 at 18:16.
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Old 6th Jun 2012, 18:46
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Quote: "Berlin may be German's capital city - it's not the 1st (most important) which businesswise is Frankfurt am Main. I would also question by what yardstick Hamburg is the 2nd German city - it's certainly the biggest port city, but I would have said that, again, businesswise probably Munich and Stuttgart are more important."

The 1949 constitution deliberately set West Germany (as it was then) as a highly decentralised, devolved and deconcentrated federation, to avoid a repeat of recent history. However, this was relatively easy given Germany's history as several balkanised states until the growth of Prussia and eventual unification in 1870. Contrast that with the UK's and France's long history of centralisation.

Quote: "Whatever, even if BER and HAM don't have a network of intercontinental services flown by Lufthansa, they do have a much more comprehensive network of European services - most German airports do - than their UK equivalents. This is because Germany is a federal country, where the states (Laender) are roughly equal in importance, and all the state governments are really interested in growth of, and support for, their economies."

FRA is still the only major hub in Germany, MUC and DUS (the richest German cities incidentally!) are focus cities for LH like BHX, MAN and GLA were for BA back in the day. Berlin is capital and largest city (by population), but relatively unimportant in aviation terms, again because of recent history.

Quote: "To see how federalism works look how Edinburgh airport's scheduled network has grown since it became a "proper" capital city where the Scottish government sits, and wealds real power."

Not so, the UK remains a unitary state, how could it be federal with England under "direct rule"!?

Whilst the presence of the Scottish Executive has doubtless contributed to EDI's growth, it probably has more to do with large and growing (until recently at least) financial services and allied industries. If the presence of devolved government was the main factor, we would have seen the same at CWL and BHD in recent years and at BFS for much longer.

Quote: "You have to look to France for a country that is similar to the UK, where Paris is all dominant, and hence Lyon, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Strassburg etc don't have proper direct links to many principal cities by the National carrier - who could justifiably be referred to a "Paris Airways". Mind you, even in France their is a proper high speed rail network joining provincial cities to the metropolis - something the UK still doesn't have! "

In fairness to "Paris Airways" (AF), it has a much bigger range of domestic destinations out of CDG/ORY than "London Airways" (BA) does out of LHR/LGW/LCY, so a "proper high speed network" is not the issue here.

Last edited by Fairdealfrank; 6th Jun 2012 at 18:50.
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Old 7th Jun 2012, 00:31
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One thing could make a HUGE difference to Birmingham's attractiveness as an airport for Londoners.

When you're going TO BHX you can book your train ticket months in advance for the cheapest price, but coming back you have no idea exactly when you will be through arrivals, so have to either book a couple of cheap tickets an hour or so apart, book an any train ticket at greater expense, leave a huge safety margin, or take a chance that you'll be hearing that Ryanair fanfare.

Virgin Trains could work with BHX to offer some sort of product whereby if your incoming flight was delayed (or arrived early) your advance purchase train ticket would be valid on an alternative train and maybe charge a £1 or £2 premium for this insurance, (call it what you will).

Until this happens flying into BHX will never be attractive to many Londoners who might choose BHX if the price was right.
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Old 7th Jun 2012, 02:54
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Until the "Londoncentricity" of the UK is reversed I'm afraid that all other cities, and their airports, will be under used.
This is unrealistic. It's not that BHX is close to the capital of the UK, it's too close to one of the world's top cities. Comparisons with Germany aren't entirely spot on as Germany has no equivalent of London. Take a breath, no, it does not. Paris comes closer but even London is now the 6th largest French city on Earth, telling on internationalism.
London is a magnet, I live there, I am from the "regions". It's just no comparison, and when you go down the social engineering path, you end up doing silly expensive and impractical things like moving the BBC to Salford Quays and still having to duplicate the infrastructure back in London! Still lets not be happy about our own capital city being such a force in the world, ' cos it's making our good old regions look bad.....

Seriously London-Birmingham? Don't be ludicrous. We can't even make a serious stab at London Gatwick and Stansted as serious airports with legacy carriers and connections, thought GIP are making a great effort and showing progress at Gatters.
Does any other country in Europe have quite so many airports with long haul as we do? Look at Emirates, they serve GLA, NCL, MAN, BHX, LHR and LGW in the UK and DUB across the sea, that's SEVEN airports in the market. This does not happen in any other European country. (They only serve ~33 airports in Europe btw)

On a UK strategic level, we're not underserved, we're overserved. Airports left, right and centre. Two in Belfast, two for Glasgow and both fighting EDI, MAN vs LPL vs LBA, NCL vs MME, EMA vs BHX (no longer vs CVT), DSA thrown in the mix. London now has LHR / LGW / LCY, STN / LTN and if that wasn't enough we now have SEN. None of this is rationally planned or strategic. All politics is local and no city must be without an airport in what is frankly becoming a willie waving competition.

This does show signs of returning to some rationality as MAN begins to grow again as the shine comes off LPL and DSA retracts, BHD loses WW and CVT is closed to commercial airliners. Even PIK is in retreat as the Ryanair bubble floats overseas where the subsidies are higher.

Last edited by Skipness One Echo; 7th Jun 2012 at 03:09.
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Old 7th Jun 2012, 08:26
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It amazes me how this when this crops up from time to time everyone gets themselves in a right state about it. I mean how dare the board at BHX show a little ambition, who do they think they are....

It's marketing people, nothing more and nothing less, I thought marketing principles had reached small towns and backwaters such as Reading, clearly not.
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Old 7th Jun 2012, 09:04
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One cannot argue with the basic principle that BHX is better positioned than LHR to be the country’s major hub. It is after all geographically central - simple as that.

However there are significant practicalities that have to be faced:

1. Though excellently positioned for the motorway network, that network is already close to capacity in rush hour.

2. The NEC is too close. Major exhibitions would seriously impact an expanded BHX (they already do!).

3. The rail links needs sorting out. Direct trains from London yes. But a large proportion of the local Midlands catchment have to change in the hole that is Birmingham New Street.

and the biggy

4. Once a hub like LHR is already established it becomes self-sustaining unless there is some massive incentive to change (whether governmental or entrepreneurial)
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Old 7th Jun 2012, 09:09
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It's marketing people, nothing more and nothing less, I thought marketing principles had reached small towns and backwaters such as Reading, clearly not.
Yes, of course it's marketing.

But out here in the boondocks of the southeast, we're naive enough to believe that marketing and common sense aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

So, out of interest, how would you answer the question that I posed in my first post:

why aren't airlines already using all that spare capacity at BHX to fly direct to the hundred or so destinations that Heathrow serves but BHX doesn't ?
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Old 7th Jun 2012, 09:57
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Reality is a mixture of reasons. I would suggest poor pricing and poor marketing from BHX in recent years, happily this is changing for the better, it's got you talking about it after all. In addition the economic downturn affected the metro area of Birmingham badly, whilst London PLC was bailed out at any cost the lack of cash-flow coming from the banks crippled many businesses here. All of this has seen the airport struggle, that said it has maintained a set of connections and routes that no other uk regional airport can match. As has been said above it is also the best connected airport to uk transport links, the m6, m5, m42, m40 all converge on BHX as does the west coast mainline. No reason why BHX won't continue to grow now, the economy here is growing positively and forecast to remain growing, a smart traveller from north London would use BHX, as long as the marketing people keep spreading this news than I can see no harm in continuing to aim high.
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