New report reveals Heathrow and aviation sector’s £12bn boost to annual economy

London Heathrow airport.
Photo Credit: LHR Airports Ltd

LONDON – A new report details Heathrow’s value to Britain and its support for the UK’s regions: delivering a £400 million boost to economies across the UK. The study, which contains new research by consultancy Frontier Economics, reveals Heathrow is Britain’s “most valuable port”. 

It charts how in 2021, as Britain emerged from the pandemic, more than £153 billion of non-EU exports and imports travelled through Heathrow while in 2019 visitors travelling through the airport went on to spend £400 million in towns and cities across the UK. 

The report: ‘Heathrow: Sustainable Growth, Global Connectivity’, notes the part Britain’s hub airport plays in the UK aviation sector’s £12 billion annual boost to the British economy. And it details the importance of the global hub airport model to the UK’s economic growth and to Britain’s exporters who rely on aviation trade routes.  

The hub model helps to drive trade growth and regional economies by pooling demand for global connections and providing more choice of destinations for passengers and businesses.  

British consumers and businesses can reach 95% of the global economy with a direct flight from Heathrow with over 200 ‘unique’ one-stop connections between the UK regions and rest of the world. 

The report focuses on how Heathrow’s unrivalled connectivity to the world’s growth markets support the economies of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and all the English regions with case studies from across the UK of business.  

The data reveals that Heathrow’s domestic route network connects the nations and regions of the UK to global growth and strengthens the fabric of the Union. In 2019, passengers travelling through Heathrow spent more in Scotland than in any other part of the UK, some £276 million.    

In the North East, business passengers who travelled through Heathrow generated more than £150 million in trade and investment in 2019. In Northern Ireland more than £120 million in trade and investment was generated by Heathrow’s business passengers and in the South West it was £10 million.  

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye welcomed the findings of Frontier Economics. However, he said growth could not come at any cost and reconfirmed Heathrow’s goal by 2030 of cutting carbon emissions in the air by up to 15% and at least 45% on the ground compared to 2019.  

He said: “Aviation is a force for good in the world, lifting millions out of poverty through trade and tourism. But these social and economic benefits cannot come at any cost.”

“Climate change is an existential threat to aviation and the planet and our industry must play its part by taking fossil fuel carbon out of flying.”  

“That is why at Heathrow, we are taking the lead to decarbonise aviation. We have worked with others across the industry to develop a plan to do so and are taking in our own airport.” 

The publication of the new report follows the launch in early 2022 of the Heathrow 2.0: Connecting People and Planet strategy. 

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