Manufacturers want Heathrow expansion

Posted on 30 Jan 2015 by The Manufacturer

A survey shows overwhelming view of expansion of the UK’s largest airport amongst manufacturers.

Britain’s manufacturers are backing an expansion of additional capacity at Heathrow airport, believing it to be the best strategic fit for the manufacturing sector and, the best option to secure a better balanced economy.

Carried out in Autumn 2014,  four fifths of the 130 companies surveyed back Heathrow expansion versus Gatwick. Three quarters of respondents named frequency of flights and range of destinations as key reasons.

The call comes on the back of a survey published today by EEF, and, ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline for the Airport Commission’s final consultation on options for airport expansion.

Terry Scuoler CEO EEF
Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF.

Commenting that expansion at Heathrow is clearly the best option for business and the country overall, EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler, said: “It soars ahead of all other options in terms of frequency of flights, range of destinations and ease of access. Manufacturers believe it is best to build on this success.

“Airport capacity is critical to industry for exporting and, ultimately, for the UK economy. The Airports Commission has tackled this issue through a detailed process with extensive consultation and its final recommendation demands full support from Government. Our economy cannot wait any longer and we now need spades in the ground as soon as possible.”

According to the survey79% of companies backed Heathrow expansion with a preference for Heathrow in every English region and Wales, as well as for every sector and company size.

When asked to choose from a range of options about why Heathrow expansion is preferable, 77% chose frequency of flights, 75% the range of destinations and 44% timing of flights. Key elements of a ‘hub and spoke’ airline model which is the structure for the majority of airlines operating from Heathrow.

Additionally, a strong factor for backing further expansion (73% of companies) was the fact Heathrow is well placed on the strategic road network, allowing access from the vast majority of the country, a key aspect for freight.

The importance of aviation is especially vital to manufacturers, especially those with overseas subsidiaries and, those who are export intensive. According to Department for Transport figures 40% of non EU trade by value is sent by air.

The Airports Commission has noted that the GVA of manufacturing would be 2% higher against a baseline in 2050 vs. 1.5% at Gatwick. The Commission also notes airport expansion would lead to an increase in exports due to a reduction in country to country trade costs.

A previous EEF survey showed three quarters of companies viewed aviation as either critical or important, 97% of export intensive companies described aviation as critical or important while half of UK owned companies with an overseas subsidiary say aviation is critical to their business.

Given the increasing importance of exports to manufacturers and, the UK economy, the importance of additional airport capacity will only become more critical.