UK economy risks losing out on Heathrow passengers’ £16bn spend

Newly published research by the CEBR reveals that £16bn is made from those arriving at the airport, making it central to the rebuilding of the sector and businesses within the region

The UK economy and recovering businesses could miss out on billions of pounds worth of passenger spending from Heathrow if the travel list isn’t reviewed on June 7, according to new research conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

Data from the study reveals that customers arriving at the airport spend around £16bn across the region, proving vital for both the aviation sector and thousands of businesses.

This news comes shortly after Heathrow announced it was working with the government to inaugurate a red list arrivals facility, which opened today in Terminal 3.

London Heathrow Airport
Photo London Heathrow Airport

The organisation found that travelling from the US to the London hub provides the largest source of inbound tourism revenue – accounting for £3.74bn. Pre-pandemic, the LHR-JFK route was one of the most popular, serving over 21 million passengers from Heathrow to America in 2019.

Therefore, the airport is calling for the US to be added to the UK green list at the earliest opportunity, to begin restoring the region’s transatlantic routes.

John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO, said: “This research shows just how many businesses across the UK are losing out because of the Government’s restrictions on access to overseas visitors and markets.

“The government has the tools to protect both public health and the economy and ministers must unlock more low risk destinations across Europe, as well as the US, as part of the next review on June 7.”

Heathrow also fears that passengers  travelling from overseas will be lost to other European countries, as they are currently moving quicker to reopen borders. Italy is now allowing vaccinated travellers into the country, with France preparing to do the same.

Vaccination distribution is rapidly increasing globally, with the US fast approaching the UK’s rate. This scheme, alongside Coronavirus testing, enables links to resume to other low-risk trading partners, contributing to the country’s economic revival.

Figures recorded by the CEBR also show that expenditure by passengers using the London hub is expected to rise to £18.1bn a year by 2025 if international travel is to resume this summer. If this restart is stunted, it is possible that visitor numbers will slow down and could potentially fall by more than 18% (£13.6bn) by the middle of the decade, according to the economics firm.