Have you seen the A380 come in to land at or take off from Birmingham Airport yet? I have, and what a glorious spectacle it makes.
I was fortunate enough to catch it at the weekend, when the planes were landing from the Tile Cross end of the runway. A substantial crowd was gathered in Sheldon Country Park come quarter past midday, when it was about due. It was a bit like that moment in Close Encounters when the craft first appears and takes your breath away. You hear it coming and you can tell its unlike the Ryanair and Monarch workhorses, but it comes in low, hidden by trees until suddenly a magnificent and huge triumph of engineering comes overhead so close that you could inspect the welding to drop onto the runway that its wingspan overhangs on both sides.Trundling on to the terminal building it dwarfs anything else within view.
Later that same afternoon we watched from our upstairs window in Knowle soon after it had taken off and followed its slow, ponderous climb into the sky. It’s incredible size made it seem to be twice as close to us as the regular planes on the flightpath, but it wasn’t, of course.
Emirates are now flying three planes to Dubai from Birmingham and back, just one of these by A380. Capacity has more than quadrupled since the first Emirates service started 15 years ago. Dubai has become the main gateway to and from the Far East and Australasia and over half a million passengers have used the service so far in 2016.
This is an important development for the economic health of our area, the reason why the runway was extended, it opens up vital trade routes, making it easier for our local businesses to be active in the emerging markets of the Far East and for their companies to invest here.
That, in turn, will mean employment opportunities and benefits to local communities. So, whilst more planes can more mean more noise, that is a small price to pay, particularly when the plane is as spectacularly impressive as the A380.