Birmingham Airport confirms fate of escalators as building works near their end

-Credit: (Image: Martin O'Callaghan / BirminghamLive)
-Credit: (Image: Martin O'Callaghan / BirminghamLive)

It is the question repeatedly asked of Birmingham Airport by BirminghamLive readers; are the escalators coming back? Terminal escalators were removed last year amidst ongoing works to get the "state-of-the-art" security hall completed.

The £60 million 'next generation' security hall will see new scanners that "run like a motorway", search checkpoints and brand new liquid rules. However the airport told us that despite investing millions in their brand new security hall, they cannot use it to its full capability because of a UK Government directive on liquids, and the fact they are yet to free up more ground space.

As it stands, customers need to queue at busy times to get into lifts that take them up to the security area. The biggest question from travellers, directed at the airport and to our reporters, is to ask if the lifts are permanent, and if the escalators up to the security area will return.

READ MORE: TUI and Jet2 issue Birmingham Airport queue and bag drop advice to worried travellers

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Birmingham Airport's chief executive Nick Barton took BirminghamLive around the airport on June 11 to update us on the terminal works, where we put the escalator question to him along with other worries from travellers over scenes of queue chaos.

Mr Barton revealed that the escalators were removed for health and safety reasons and that they won't be be returning. He explained the lifts, when they are able to operate at capacity, will work as the main way of transporting passengers upstairs to departures.

Birmingham Airport No liquids over 100ml sign. While waiting for a software issue to be resolved with the new scanners (that can scan up to two litres of liquid), passengers arriving at the airport are being reminded to continue to limit liquids in their hand luggage to 100ml. This will then reduce the need for such long queues for security as have been recently seen. -Credit:Birmingham Live

Mr Barton said: "The escalators were really dangerous. We removed them because they were a health and safety issue. These lifts are huge, we only really need three of them to be working in the peak. When the ground space opens up people won't be queuing downstairs."

However, much-needed ground space is yet to be released, which is why holidaymakers encounter large snaking queues into the terminal at peak times, such as early mornings.

"More space [will be] released in three days' time which will give us more queueing space. The end game is that people won't be queueing [to get to the lifts]" said Mr Barton.

He added that passengers are made to queue outside to reduce panic and crowding inside. "It is much nicer to to queue outside as much as we regret the perception that this has on the passengers."

The airport has come in for sharp criticism from holidaymakers over how they have communicated with passengers over hold-ups in the terminal. BHX had anticipated that by June 1, the 2 litre rule would come into play, easing restrictions on liquid and bringing into play the airports new state-of-the-art kit.

But government transport chiefs announced they needed to re-validate all the software on every machine (including at other UK airports such as London City, which had already rolled out the 2 litre allowance). As a result, passengers now have to stick to 100ml, and there is no end in sight for the temporary measure.

Read the latest liquid rules and how to queue in our round-up here.