Birmingham NEC 8 June 2016: The CEOs of Monarch Airlines and Flybe, flanked by the CEO of EXPO host Birmingham Airport, officially opened the British-Irish Airports EXPO with a grand cake-cutting ceremony before touring the EXPO and visiting the 148 indoor and outdoor exhibitors.
Over two days the EXPO was attended by 1,488 unique delegates drawn from across Ireland, the UK, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. Besides visiting the EXPO – which filled an entire hall of the NEC – all delegates could take part in the End-User Conference which was entirely comprised of British-Irish airport or airline speakers. Presenters detailed airport development plans ranging from the “£1 billion Manchester Airport Transformation Programme,” through to Dublin’s €330 million second runway and Heathrow’s enormous £13.5 billion new runway and associated terminals and other facilities.
The British-Irish Airports EXPO was also the meeting place of the first-ever AGM of RABA – the Regional and Business Airports Group. RABA represents 32 airports under 3mppa from Land’s End to Wick John O’Groats – and beyond to Sumburgh in the Shetlands and Derry in Northern Ireland.
Indeed Ireland was heavily represented – in addition to Dublin, Cork airport also spoke on key operational issues along with Belfast City and Ireland West Knock, while the entire event was compered by Neil Pakey, a Scotsman, the CEO of Shannon Airport, and veteran of UK airports management.
On the evening of the first day 800 specially-invited guests also attended a 1950s, vintage-themed Gala Party celebrating the “Golden Age of Aviation” hosted by Birmingham Airport at the Vox Resorts World, the new Las Vegas-style casino just 200 metres away from the EXPO venue.
The EXPO concluded with a special guest finale appearance by the Liverpool and England footballing legend and rapper, John Barnes who personally visited well over 100 exhibitors in the EXPO before taking the Conference Arena by storm with a coaching session on competitiveness and team-building, followed by an exclusive British-Irish Airports EXPO preview of the British and Irish teams competing in the Euros.
The CEO of Monarch Airlines, Andrew Swaffield, and Flybe CEO, Saad Hammad, make a long and detailed tour of the EXPO led by Shannon Airport CEO, Neil Pakey, and Birmingham Airport CEO, Paul Kehoe, the host of the event.
1,488 unique delegates were electronically scanned entering the British-Irish Airports EXPO over two days.
The EXPO filled and entire hall at the National Exhibition Centre which is an integral complex alongside Birmingham Airport which hosted the event.
To aid navigation the exhibition floorplan was themed along three core supplier areas of “Airside”, “Terminal”, and “Design and Construction.”
Superb quality: As the largest exhibition of airport services ever held in the UK and Ireland, a clear characteristic of the EXPO was considerable effort exhibitors had made to bring actual equipment and solutions to Birmingham for delegates to experience at first hand.
The positioning of a Conference Arena within the EXPO allowed visitors to make a very balanced mix between attending educational conference sessions, while having considerable dwell time in the exhibition.
The EXPO included an extensive outdoor area for heavy machinery while the entrance to the event was framed with and Oshkosh Striker fire truck supplied by major exhibitor, Terberg.
British-Irish Airports EXPO End-User Conference features billions in investment
Only airports, airlines and end-users were invited to make presentations – Neil Pakey, the CEO of Shannon Airport provided an expert “Master of Ceremony” role over each of the two days.
The End-User Conference was staged in a dedicated Arena within the EXPO, allowing visitors an ideal mix of attending sessions while also visiting the exhibitors.
Miller time: The “£1 billion Manchester Airport Transformation Programme” was presented by Brad Miller, the plan’s Programme Director. Delegates massed to hear Miller talk – and then formed a very orderly, British-Irish queue to talk to Miller about how their businesses could become involved.
More multi-billion schemes: Ian Ballentine, Procurement Director, Heathrow Airport explained the future grand plan for expanding Heathrow and specifically: “How we need to work differently with our supply chain.” Ballentine also received a queue of visitors after speaking, a phenomenon which emerged as a unique characteristic of this EXPO and End-User Conference.
The strong Irish presence: The CEO of Dublin Airport, Kevin Toland, presented the future development plans which include a €330 million new second runway announced in March. Later Ciaran Carton, General Manager Operations, Cork Airport, presented a key case study of how Cork is preparing for EASA Certification readiness.
Speaking for Wales Debra Barber, Managing Director Cardiff Airport, represents one of the key constituent airports making up the 32 airports of the Regional and Business Airports Group, also known as RABA. Other RABA presentations were made by Glasgow Prestwick Airport’s Michael Stewart, and John Spooner – outgoing RABA Chairman. (Spooner was succeeded by Pakey at the RABA AGM which was hosted at the EXPO). Aberdeen Airport’s Head of Capital, John Deffenbaugh, presented the airport’s £20 million, 50% terminal extension, while John Cook, Head Airfield Pavements for the MOD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) discussed runway restoration techniques including those being undertaken during the £300 million redevelopment of RAF Marham in preparation for receiving the Joint Strike Fighter.
Barn-storming finale: John Barnes tours show and coaches on team-building
The EXPO concluded with a special guest finale appearance of the Liverpool and England footballing legend and rapper, John Barnes who delivered a masterclass on competitive and team building to a packed-out Conference Arena.
Barnes personally visited well over 100 exhibitors in the EXPO, devoting considerable time to signing autographs answering questions, and posing for photographs for exhibitors’ corporate use. (Note: you can find your snap with John Barnes here)
As a frequent traveller the former Liverpool striker took a genuine interest in the products and services which would improve the passenger experience – later that day Barnes was a special guest at Birmingham Airport from where he flew to comment on the Euros which he had previewed at length for the exclusive benefit of British-Irish Airports EXPO visitors.
Birmingham Airport-hosted Gala Party celebrates “Golden Age of Aviation”
800 specially-invited delegates attended the 1950s, vintage-themed Gala Party gala evening celebrating the “Golden Age of Aviation” hosted by Birmingham Airport.
The event was hosted at the NEC’s Vox Resorts World, the new Las Vegas-style casino – just 200 metres away from the EXPO venue at the National Exhibition Centre right next to Birmingham Airport.
In a surprise move Birmingham Airport staff used the Gala Party as an opportunity to celebrate CEO Paul Kehoe’s 35 years in aviation – including a rendition of “Happy birthday Mr Chief Executive” by “Marilyn Monroe.”
After being entertained by Lisa Sampson, the hula-hoop girl of Britain’s Got Talent fame. Turkish Airlines also gave away two tickets to any of its system-wide destinations from Birmingham. The British-Irish Airports EXPO takes place again in an even bigger hall at the NEC, hosted by Birmingham Airport 7-8 June 2017.