Heathrow bigger than Manchester?

t2 under constructionHeathrow’s latest financials show growth in the airport’s economic contribution, with it now putting as much into the national economy as the city of Manchester.

Heathrow’s revenues hit £2.46bn, up from £2.28bn in 2011, an 8.1% growth. This was in part due to the Olympic effect, when load factors (a measure of how full the planes are) hit record levels. More passengers means more shopping, and a greater contribution to the national economy with “induced” employment created all over the country, but partucularly in London.

When last counted, in 2011, Heathrow’s total contribution to the national economy – including all the off-airport and “induced” employment – was £9.68bn (1), sustaining a fifth of all West London jobs, and a further 90,000 in the rest of the UK. The growth in the last year will have pushed that to more than £10bn, and almost certainly close to Manchester’s contribution of around £10.6m. (2)

Of the UK city economies, only London and Birmingham add significantly more to UK Plc than Heathrow.

The airport now directly employs 76,500 people across more than 300 companies, making it one of the largest single-site employers in the UK. Taking into account the hotel, catering and transport companies based at Heathrow, there are a total of 114,000 direct and indirect jobs at the airport which form 22% of all the jobs in the local area.

The significance of the airport to the West London economy is clear.

Lookwest is hosting a debating seminar “Heathrow: Thrive or Die?” on March 4 focussed on the future of the airport. For more information or to apply for a place – click here.


  • 1. Optimal Economics, September 2011
  • 2. State of the Cities report, 2006 (but using 2011 population figures)
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