A THRIVING Upton communications company has reported an unexpected upturn in business following the decline in air travel.

Midland Communications is a world leader in video conferencing and, with businessmen reluctant to fly in the wake of the September 11 terrorist atrocity in the US, has seen inquiries for its expertise rise significantly.

"People are not travelling and are starting to use our video conference equipment more and more," said managing director Keith Davis.

Lamenting the sad situation behind the reason for such demand, he added: "It's all about the conversion of those inquiries we have received."

The video-conferencing technology developed by the company involves using video screens with live television pictures sent, for instance, from a boardroom in London to one in New York and vice versa.

English Nature are among the customers who use the system at its offices throughout England.

Video-conferencing was already a strong feature of the company's portfolio and, in partnership with Sony and Motion Media, has helped establish it in the implementation and project management of the system around the world.

Mr Davis is sure current demand will help cement the firm's reputation as it looks to build on a turnover that has doubled in the past five years.

Midland Communications employs about 40 people at its Orchard Works in Upton. Set up 28 years ago, its local customers include Hanley Castle High School, West Mercia Police Authority, the Dean and Chapter of Worcester and Malvern College.

As well as video conferencing it supplies business telephone systems and has its own telephone network.

"We do from the very simple to the very complex," said Mr Davis, who is proud of the company's local connections, particular the support it gives to the Pepperpot Players and Hanley High School.