UK. Birmingham Airport will add a raft of retail stores and restaurants as part of a planned £500 million (US$654 million) investment.

A newly-unveiled draft Master Plan envisages a +40% growth in traffic to 18 million passengers per year by 2033, as the airport bids to become one of Europe’s leading regional hubs.

Birmingham Airport will make a self-financed investment of £500 million over the life of the plan to enhance facilities and improve the passenger experience.

The airport said it would invest in improving, modernising and extending facilities to deliver increased capacity and enhance the passenger experience.

A terminal extension will expand the size of the current departure lounge in the north terminal by almost +40% and create a glazed mezzanine floor where a range of bars and restaurants will be housed.

“This will create space, maximise natural light and transform [the terminal] into a bright, modern and relaxing place for passengers,” the airport said.

The Master Plan includes the creation of new retail stores, bars and restaurants.

The planned high-speed rail link HS2, which will initially run between London and Birmingham by 2026, will help increase passenger numbers, the airport said. It will cut rail journeys between the airport and central London from 70 to 38 minutes.

Birmingham Airport Acting Managing Director Simon Richards commented: “Birmingham Airport is already the preferred national and international aviation hub for the Midlands and our ambition is to build on this to become one of Europe’s leading regional airports, acting as a key economic accelerator, delivering great service to passengers, and helping to showcase the region.

“Over the next 15 years, we will expand and significantly improve the airport to maximise our potential as a single runway airport by investing £500 million. Our plans take account of our forecast growth and will increase operational efficiency for our airlines and partners and improve the experience for our passengers.”

Some 18 million passengers per year will be handled by 2033, according to the Master Plan, up from the current 13 million.

Birmingham Airport has opened its plans to the public in a consultation that will run to the end of January. The final version of the Master Plan will be published in early 2019.