‘The future is guaranteed, the appetite to travel is undimmed’ says Nick Barton, Birmingham Airport CEO

Downtown in Business hosted an exclusive roundtable lunch on 17th February with Chief Executive of Birmingham International Airport, Nick Barton, at city centre venue, The Distillery.
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Downtown Birmingham in Business recently hosted an informative event with Nick Barton, Chief Executive Officer of Birmingham Airport, at The Distillery. After a challenging few years for the travel and aviation industry, discussion centred around the future opportunities for the airport during its recovery period and beyond, and the impact of the airport on the wider city and West Midlands region.

Chair Kevin Johnson from Urban Comms opened discussion with Nick by addressing the inevitable: the impact of Covid-19 on the aviation and travel sector. Nick contrasted the pre-pandemic levels of success of Birmingham International Airport, which in 2019 had a growth span of £3000 per minute, to the massive loss of £10,000 per hour for a 480-day non-stop period. ‘The industry was the first into the crisis and it will be the last out’, Nick stated.

Despite these difficulties, discussion remained extremely optimistic as Nick affirmed that ‘the future is guaranteed, the appetite to travel is undimmed’. Referencing historical experiences of the industry such as previous infectious diseases, wars, financials crisis and 9/11, he reiterated that ‘in every event that has happened there has been a strong drop, but also a strong recovery.’ This is already increasingly evident, with TUI reporting greater sales for summer 2022 than pre-Covid levels, with people spending 22% more on holidays.

Net Zero was another focal point of discussion. While Nick acknowledged that the ‘Carbon challenge is going to be enormous’, he remains optimistic for the airport and has proposed aims for the airport to be carbon free by 2033, rather than 2050. Furthermore, he described the improvements being made internally to improve both efficiency and customer experience throughout the airport, such as new security screening and flight landing technology.

In terms of impact on the wider city region, Nick reflected that Birmingham, and the West Midlands area needs to keep up the momentum of branding itself to the international market, by driving awareness of the region’s attractiveness. The Commonwealth Games was cited as something that will have a major impact on the region, with Nick stating that ‘the real opportunity is about legacy in the run up to and at the end of the games’.

Overall, the discussion was very optimistic and collaborative, with Kevin inviting questions from around the table. Nick engaged with the various questions, highlighting the complexities of his role and giving an interesting insight into the future for the airport.

We would like to thank The Distillery for their exceptional hospitality.

We have many events coming up in Birmingham, Wolverhampton and nationwide. To view our upcoming events and register, please visit our events calendar page.

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