Birmingham airport’s aviation director outlined an ambitious environmental strategy at the The Business Travel Association - formerly the GTMC, the major UK-based association representing TMCs Conference earlier this week.
At the event, Tom Screen also said he was targeting JetBlue for its first transatlantic route.
Birmingham airport unveiled a £500 million masterplan in November last year – which outlined its plan to grow traffic by 40 per cent to 18 million passengers per year by 2033. However, Screen told delegates “I think we’ll get there a lot quicker”.
“We’re about to go into an unprecedented project – aiming for 18 million passengers. Our high case says 23 or 24 million passengers by that time. Runway capacity is not an issue.”
However, with environment issues high on the agenda, Screen also shared how the airport wanted to be carbon neutral by 2035. “Sustainability is on everyone’s agenda. This growth I talked about, 18 to 23 million passengers, has to be done against a backdrop of sustainability now. We are committed to electric buses, we will be using 65 per cent recyclable goods by 2020, and we want to be carbon neutral by 2035 – that’s the carbon we can control at the airport.
“Part of the plan is to also make sure we’re the most accessible airport from a multi-modal point of view. We’re the only UK airport to have one of the high-speed stations actually at the airport. High Speed 2: A proposed high-speed railway line linking London with the Midlands, the North of England and eventually the central belt of Scotland. It is being developed by High Speed Two Ltd, a comp... should improve that.”
Speaking at the Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin in the Netherlands, Screen also said he was inspired by Maersk Shippings’ ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050. “Its CEO said he had no idea how he was going to do it – but said if we don’t set these targets, and make them stringent targets, we won’t get anywhere. The year 2050 sounded too far off for us, so we decided for 2035,” Screen said.
At the conference, the aviation director also conceded Birmingham did not take the low-cost sector seriously when it emerged in the 1990s. “Birmingham is the UK’s second city, but we’re not the second biggest airport. We’ve done a lot of things right, but a lot of things perhaps wrong – perhaps missing out on the low-cost revolution. We had BA Connect at the time, and the management then felt we didn’t need low cost. Since Monarch went bust, we’ve been struggling to fill that gap,” he said.
As a result, he added the airport should be doing more to attract transatlantic traffic: “There’s lot of eastbound connectivity, but westbound it’s a big zero, and that needs to change. The likes of someone like JetBlue is very exciting for us. We’re going to see them in about three weeks’ time to discuss a possible future route with them.”