Heathrow press releases

17 April, 2012

New figures reveal airlines locating flights outside the UK

  • 53% of airlines are increasing flights in other countries at the expense of the UK because of capacity constraints at Heathrow
  • 86% would put on more flights to the UK if there were free slots at Heathrow
  • BAA CEO Colin Matthews will unveil the figures in a speech today and say the UK is missing out on jobs and growth because of lack of Government support for a hub

In a speech to transport industry leaders today, BAA Chief Executive Colin Matthews will release research showing that foreign airlines are ready to vote with their feet and base new flights outside of the UK because of a lack of Government policy supporting aviation. A survey by the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), which represents 84 scheduled airlines, shows that more than half (53%) either have located or are preparing to locate flights in other countries that they say would have come to the UK if there was spare capacity at Heathrow.  86% of airlines said that they would put on more flights to the UK if additional take-off and landing slots were available at Heathrow.

The results suggest that the UK is handing the thousands of jobs and millions of pounds worth of trade which would come with extra flights to our European competitors and show the urgent need for new hub airport capacity.   Colin Matthews will argue that whatever the long-term solution to UK hub airport capacity, the Government will need to consider short and medium-term options for growth at Heathrow if the UK is not to lose its status as a global aviation hub.

In his speech to today’s Transport Times Conference “A New Strategy for UK Aviation - The Case for New Hub Capacity”, Colin Matthews will say:

“These figures show that it is a mistake to believe that flights displaced from Heathrow will automatically fly to Stansted, Gatwick or Birmingham instead. The message I hear from airlines is clear: if there’s no room at Heathrow then flights will move out of the UK altogether. Instead of Britain taking the lead in forging new links with growing economies like China, we are handing economic growth to our competitors by turning away airlines who want to bring jobs, growth and trade to the UK.”

The survey supports the recent research by Frontier Economics that found there were twenty-one emerging market destinations with daily flights from other European hubs that were not served with a daily flight from Heathrow. UK businesses trade 20 times as much with emerging market countries that have a direct daily flight to the UK as they do with those countries that do not. This lack of connectivity is expected to cost the UK economy £14bn over the next ten years in lost trade.

European competitors already serve seven more cities in China than the UK does. Paris, Frankfurt or Amsterdam airports will boast direct flights to Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Xiamen, Nanjing, Shenyang and Qingdao this year, in addition to the flights to Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai served from the UK.

Mike Carrivick, Chief Executive of BAR UK which conducted the research said

“UK business leaders should be very concerned about the restrictions on reaching new markets at such a critical time in the UK recovery effort. The survey’s results are a chilling reminder that the Government must act decisively, and soon, in the national interest. Restricting capacity at key airports to the same level as the last decade is actively encouraging airlines and trade to go elsewhere.”


Notes to editors:

  1. 51 airlines completed the BAR UK survey
  2. “If additional slots were available at Heathrow would your airline be seeking more frequencies?” (Yes: 86.3%, No: 13.7%)
  3. “As a result of capacity restrictions at Heathrow, has your airline already increased its schedules in another country, or does it plan to do so, at the expense of the UK?” (Yes: 53.1%, No: 46.9%)