The plans would see a congestion charge levied at airports such as Heathrow encouraging passengers and airlines to fly from Birmingham and other less busy gateways.
In a submission to the UK Airports Commission, Birmingham said it could handle 27 million passengers by 2021 with only “minor developments to existing infrastructure”.
Manchester Airports Group – which runs Manchester and Stansted – has called for a reform of Air Passenger Duty to enhance international connectivity.
It also called for further liberalisation of the UK’s bilateral policy, to open up capacity to overseas airlines.
MAG said surface access to airports with spare capacity needed to be improved, in particular cutting the rail journey time to Stansted to 30 minutes, to enable fairer competition between London airports.
Charlie Cornish, CEO of MAG, said: “The Airports Commission’s interim report provides an opportunity for the UK to make a firm statement about the future of economic growth in the country.
“With new runway capacity unlikely to be available for at least 10 to fifteen years, it is critical that airports and government do everything possible to make the best use of capacity that already exists.”
Heathrow Airport has told the Airports Commission that the UK cannot expand its hub capacity without a third runway at the London gateway.