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London’s links to world business centres dwarf European ‘rivals’

2nd September, 2011

A new report reveals that Heathrow’s links to the world’s main business centres dwarf those of its European ‘rivals’.

International Air Connectivity for Business’ published by AirportWatch shows that Heathrow has 990 departures each week to business destinations in Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe, more than the combined total of its closest ‘rivals’, Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and Frankfurt Airport.

It also revealed that London airports combined (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted) have more than double the number of flights to key business destinations each week compared with Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam.

The report was published just a day after the Government announced its response to the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, where it predicted a 2% annual growth in passenger numbers to 2050, significantly lower than the 3.7% growth seen in the past twenty years. The Government’s analysis assumes capacity constraints on UK runways and terminals, which is welcome. But their claim that these constraints could lead to UK passengers switching to Continental airports seems very far-fetched, given the clear lead that London airports already have over their competitors in providing the best business connectivity.

This evidence will help to inform AEF’s response to the Department for Transport’s Aviation Scoping Document, currently out for consultation (closing 20th October), which stresses the importance to business of good air links from UK airports to key business centres abroad. The scoping document is the first stage in the Government’s plans to produce a new aviation policy.

The authors concludes that Heathrow is in a class of its own as far as international business connectivity is concerned. In fact, London as a whole is better connected to the world’s business centres than any other European city. Further, most of the flying from Continental airports is not inter-continental but short-haul within Europe, largely for leisure purposes. Even in the UK, only about 20% of passengers are travelling for business.

International Air Connectivity for Business (pdf, 16 pages)