Quarter of a million jobs to go if Heathrow closes

heathrow control tower sunsetA report, commissioned by four LEPs and West London Business says that up to 230,000 jobs could be put at risk in the Thames Valley if Heathrow were to close and a new hub airport built elsewhere.

This would be in addition to the jobs directly dependent on the airport, which Heathrow put at around 116,000, and could cost £8bn in economic output.

The London Heathrow Economic Impact Study, written by Regeneris, and commissioned by commissioned by West London Business, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley LEP, Enterprise M3 LEP, Oxfordshire LEP and Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, says that the closure of the UKs biggest airport could mean the loss of between 170,000 and 230,000 jobs – approaching 10% of jobs in the region.

The report considered the regional effect of three main options – an expanded Heathrow; a “do-nothing” scenario; and a new hub in the Estuary or at Stansted combined with the closure of Heathrow.

The report said expansion of Heathrow could create another 35,000 jobs and add £3bn to the economy.

It has now been submitted to the Airports Commission, chaired by Howard Davies, to inform the debate on the UK’s aviation infrastructure needs.

The footprint of the report forms an area known as “the Western Wedge” – one of the most productive and strongest economies in the UK and Europe.

If Heathrow were to be closed and replaced by a new hub airport elsewhere, the report says the impacts would be dramatic. By 2030 there would be a loss of 105,000 jobs within the western wedge area and GVA could be £8bn lower. In the long run, the 170,000 to 230,000 jobs – in addition to the 120,000 jobs directly supported at Heathrow itself – whose presence depends on the good air connections at Heathrow would be at risk. Firms would seek to locate to the new hub airport or out of the UK altogether

By 2040, the report says an extra 35,000 jobs could be created if Heathrow expands compared to a do-nothing option and the region would see annual GVA boosted by £3 billion as a result of the extra activity at Heathrow.

The better air connections could deliver business productivity benefits of £230m to £300m pa from reduced delays and more frequent services, with around 50 additional long and short haul services offered. The expansion of Heathrow would help secure the many jobs in international firms clustered around the airport.

By 2030, the closure of Heathrow and travel to and from a new hub airport would add £440m per annum in costs to existing businesses in the western wedge.

Frank Wingate, Chief Executive for West London Business comments, “This important piece of research, covering the greater Heathrow economy, demonstrates just how devastating the closure of Heathrow would be to an area dynamically contributing ten percent of the UK economy. It’s impossible to imagine how tens of thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of GVA could ever be replaced in West London and the Thames Valley and to damage this UK powerhouse would be folly.”

Steve Lamb, Chair for Thames Valley Berkshire LEP comments, “The findings reinforce the critical importance of the airport on the regional economy. The proximity to a hub airport at Heathrow is of critical importance to Thames Valley businesses. The airport acts as a gateway to new and emerging markets of the world. The ‘western wedge’ area to the west of London is a fiercely competitive global market and the need to facilitate more and better aviation links from an expanded Heathrow is absolutely crucial for keeping us well- connected, as well as ensuring that we secure reductions in the operational impact of Heathrow now, and for the foreseeable future.”

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