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Osborne’s Budget cash help for aviation fails to take off at Birmingham Airport

Osborne’s Budget cash help for aviation fails to take off at Birmingham Airport

🕔21.Mar 2014

The small print in George Osborne’s Budget turned out to be bad news for Birmingham Airport.

When the Chancellor announced a £10 million two-year  fund to subsidise new routes from Britain’s regional airports, he might have been wise to add that ‘terms and conditions apply’.

Mr Osborne told MPs: “Because we want all parts of our country to see better links with the markets of the future we’re going to provide start-up support for new routes from regional airports, like Liverpool, Leeds or indeed Inverness.”

And while he didn’t specifically mention Birmingham, it appeared from his pledge to help ‘all parts of our country’ that the West Midlands would benefit.

That turned out not to be the case. Mr Osborne’s generosity extends only to smaller regional airports and not to Birmingham, which is deemed to be too large to require help.

The Treasury confirmed that only airports with fewer than three million passengers a year will receive start-up cash for new routes within the EU. The cash can be provided for airports with up to five million passengers for new routes outside of the EU.

Birmingham fails to qualify on either count since it caters for nine million passengers a year.

Confirmation of restrictions on the fund was a blow to Birmingham, where an extended runway will soon offer opportunities for new long-haul routes.

Paul Kehoe, chief executive of Birmingham Airport, expressed his disappointment: “Whilst the Regional Air Connectivity Fund that the Chancellor enhanced in the Budget is good news for our smaller, more peripheral, regional airports, it does not help make best use of capacity at airports like Birmingham because airports in our great regional cities are not included.”

Officials at Birmingham Airport are expected to lobby Mr Osborne to change his mind and allow larger airports to bid for help from the new fund.

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