Birmingham Airport - Past, present and future

Birmingham Airport is the West Midlands regional hub to Europe and to the rest of the World. It is located in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull close to the A45 and J6 on the M42.

Where is Birmingham Airport?

Birmingham Airport is in Bickenhill, Solihull, (Birmingham), West Midlands, B26 3QJ. Is is near the A45 Coventry Road and the M42 motorway (Junction 6).


In brief

Birmingham Airport, is the UK's seventh busiest airport, with up to 13 million passengers travelling through it every year, it was formerly called Elmdon Airport which opened on the 8th July 1939. It changed its name to Birmingham International in 1960. 

In 1961, an additional terminal building to handle international traffic was opened called The International Building. A new terminal (terminal 1 & 2) was opened by the Queen in 1984.

In 2011, the word 'International' was dropped and it is now officially known as Birmingham Airport by 2011.

Over recent years the runway has been extended and a new Air Traffic Control Tower was opened in 2012. 

Birmingham Airport Arrivals and departures Birmingham Airport - Arrivals and Departures. Photography by Elliott Brown


Birmingham Airport - history

Birmingham City Council first had an idea to build an airport in 1928.

Sites suggested in 1931 included Shirley and Elmdon in the Borough of Solihull, or Aldridge in the Borough of Walsall. In the end they chose a site in Elmdon.

The Great Depression put things back, but the plans were revived again in 1933.

In 1935, the architectural and engineering practice Norman and Dawbarn was invited to design a building. A private members bill from the Birmingham Corporation passed through Parliament in 1933 and Elmdon Airport was built and opened in 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

The airport was opened by the Duchess of Kent together with the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain.

Elmdon Airport Elmdon Airport from the X1 bus. Photography by Elliott Brown


Post-war years

After the war, the airport was returned to civilian used by 1946.

Between 1950 and 1970 the airport was used for a number of public events such as air fairs and air races.

The Government's control of the airport ended in 1960 handing it back to the City of Birmingham. Elmdon Airport was renamed to Birmingham Airport in April 1960.

An additional terminal building was opened in 1961 to handle the growing international traffic, which was called The International Building. The first runway extension took place from 1967 to 1970 allowing jet powered airliners to use the airport. The newly formed West Midlands Metropolitan County Council took control of the airport in 1974.

The supersonic airliner Concorde visited the airport in 1980 (it made it's farewell visit in 2003).


Maglev and a new Terminal

In the 1970s Birmingham Airport was home to one of the world's first commercial maglev systems, which ran between the terminal and the nearby Birmingham International Station (opened in 1976 along with the National Exhibition Centre). It opened in 1984 at the brand new terminal building, then called Birmingham International Airport.

HM the Queen officially opened the new Birmingham International Airport in May 1984. At the time the airport had a Terminal 1 and a Terminal 2. The old Elmdon Airport was no longer used for National or International flights, other than for prviate flights and freight. The Maglev was discontinued in 1995, and was later replaced by the Air Rail Link in 2003.

In 1998 during the G8, the World Leaders planes including Air Force One landed at Birmingham Airport, using Elmdon Airport.

Birmingham AirportHM the Queen opens Birmingham International Airport in May 1984. Photography by Elliott Brown



Wetherspoon plaque at Birmingham Airport

Birmingham International Airport began as a small airfield in the Parish of Elmdon and was known as Elmdon Airport. The name Elmdon means 'hill of the elms. The first aircraft to land was a Western Airways twin-engine D.H. Dragonfly, on 20th March 1939. Dragonfly was the name of Wetherspoon's first outlet at the airport. Elmdon Airport was officially renamed Birmingham Airport, in April 1960, at a ceremony attended by an estimated 10,000 people. International flights were introduced in the 1960s. The Main Terminal was opened in 1984. These premises were opened by J.D. Wetherspoon in March 2015.

Birmingham AirportWetherspoon plaque at Birmingham Airport (June 2017). Photography by Elliott Brown


Into the new Millennium

The shorter of the airport's runways closed in January 2008. 

In the same month, plans were prepared for a airport runway extension and a new airport traffic control tower. These plans were submitted to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council.

In June 2008, work began on building a new three-storey International Pier and this was opened in September 2009.

The Airport also celebrated it's 70th anniversary in 2009, and HRH the Duke of Kent was present to unveil a plaque and to open the new International Pier during October 2009.

The new facility meant the airport could welcome Airbus A380 planes, as well as next generation planes such as the Boeing 747-8 and Boeing 777X. Runway extension plans were approved in March 2009.

Birmingham AirportPlaque unveiled by HRH the Duke of Kent in October 2009 on the occasion of Birmingham Airport's 70th anniversary. Photography by Elliott Brown


Into the 2010s

Terminals 1 and 2 were merged into a single facility in 2011, and the airport would drop "International" from it's official name to become "Birmingham Airport".

In November 2010, a new slogan began to be used "Hello World".

The airport merged its two terminals into a single building inJanuary 2011, creating two extra floors.

Work on a new air traffic control tower began in July 2011 and this was complete by March 2012, replacing the airport's original tower which had been used since the airport opened in 1939.

The airport proudly had the Olympic rings on it during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The runway extension officially opened by July 2014. This meant altering the A45 Coventry Road (which now looks like a semi circle from the air). The airport has a large departure lounge, with Duty Free shops, plus bars and restaurants. As well as the airport security area, and areas to wait near the gates to go to your plane.

With the England National Football Team now based at St George's Park near Burton-upon-Trent, the England team now use Birmingham Airport when heading off for International matches overseas.

Birmingham AirportEmirates Airbus A380 at the International Pier, Birmingham Airport (November 2018). Photography by Elliott Brown


Air Traffic Control Tower Birmingham AirportThe new Air Traffic Control Tower with London 2012 Olympic rings at Birmingham Airport (June 2012). Photography by Elliott Brown


Emirates Birmingham AirportAn Emirates Boeing 777 takes off from Birmingham Airport (March 2017). Photography by Elliott Brown


Jet2Holidays Birmingham AirportA Jet2Holidays plane approaches the runway at Birmingham Airport (October 2019). Photography by Elliott Brown


Ryanair Birmingham AirportOn board a Ryanair flight landing at Birmingham Airport (May 2019). Photography by Elliott Brown


Transport links at Birmingham Airport

Trains operate from Birmingham International Station. Buses and coaches operate from the local bus stops (including the X1 and X12). There is the Air Rail Link, as well as a large taxi rank. There is a car drop and go area outside the airport, plus several car parks and hotels.

Air Rail Link at Birmingham Airport Air Rail Link from Birmingham International Interchange to Birmingham Airport. Photography by Elliott Brown


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07 Jun 2019 - On-going


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