Hi Kevin,I'm not sure which version of Phil's Birmingham scenery you are using. If it's FSX, then the AI can still be kept in operation, when on line. In FSX, and the most recent version of IVAP, AI is automatically disabled by the IVAO software, when you connect to a server. If you want to see it, then just go to Options Scenery Traffic and put the sliders where you want them. I normally do this, whilst minimising the framerate hit by leaving the GA slider at zero.
Like you, I find it disheartening to arrive at a deserted airfield. I know the controllers frown on the principle of running AI but I would challenge anyone to spot I'm using it, as I never let it's presence interfere with the action of my own aircraft. If a confliction seems likey then it takes about 5 seconds to switch off the AI. Sometimes I don't feel the need to use it because I can see decent IVAO traffic volumes at departure and / or arrival fields.
If you are indeed running FSX, then FSC will now display all other IVAO traffic, within about 100 miles.