Heathrow press releases

21 September, 2016

New research: Green-lighting Heathrow expansion would immediately support up to 2,700 new British jobs



  • 95% of the jobs will be highly skilled, boosting Britain’s STEM skills base and creating a skills legacy
  • The research is published in the same week that Community Union and UK Steel backed Heathrow expansion to protect 700 steel jobs
  • Only choosing Heathrow expansion and connecting all of Britain to growth can help the Prime Minister deliver a stronger and fairer British economy


Research from WPI Economics shows that green-lighting Heathrow expansion will provide an immediate economic boost and support up to 2,700 jobs.  This will be the first step in helping Britain to create a stronger and fairer economy in the wake of Brexit.

Last week, the Chancellor said "I think there is a role for big, strategic projects, but they are unlikely to be ever able to contribute to fiscal stimulus because of the timelines involved”.  However the new research, commissioned by Heathrow, contradicts that position as granting approval to major infrastructure projects has short-term benefits because they need significant preliminary work.

Architects must design the structures, engineers must make plans to turn those designs into reality, lawyers must ensure that plans comply with all appropriate regulations, land must be purchased, and planning permission must be gained. By comparison with the construction jobs in the latter stages, the numbers may be small but they are typically highly skilled roles and often come hand-in-hand with graduate recruitment and training opportunities, meaning that projects can help to develop the skills and productivity of the UK workforce. Action is needed to ensure that the UK makes the most of the opportunities of Brexit to create a stronger and fairer economy and improve Britain’s standing on the world stage.  An ambitious industrial strategy must be at the heart of this action.

Only Heathrow expansion will connect all parts of Britain, not just London, to the new trading routes beyond Europe.  It will make the economy stronger because only Heathrow expansion quickly gets British exporters to new, growing, markets of the world.  Heathrow currently handles 29% of non-EU UK exports while Gatwick moves 0.2% and has no plan to build the infrastructure to move more. In contrast expansion of Heathrow will double the airport’s already substantial cargo capacity.   It will make the economy fairer because every region in the UK will do better with Heathrow than expanding Gatwick.  Heathrow expansion will connect more of Britain’s great cities to the growing markets of the world, resulting in £56bn more growth and 100,000 more jobs outside of London and the south than Gatwick.  

The WPI research comes as Heathrow announced it would improve its expansion plan to connect Britain to growth cheaper and faster as a result of the Brexit vote.


Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:

“A green-light for Heathrow expansion will immediately boost jobs and skills, as well as providing a 10 year pipeline of private sector investment, spurring productivity and STEM skills. This will be a shot in the arm for Britain and a cornerstone of the Government’s industrial strategy.

“In the long term Heathrow expansion will help the Prime Minister to create a stronger and fairer British economy.  We are Britain’s airport, uniquely connecting all of Britain to the growing markets of the world.  Only by choosing Heathrow to solve the airport capacity crunch can the Prime Minister secure jobs and economic growth outside of London and the south east.”


WPI Economics Director Matthew Oakley said:

“The overall economic impact of expanding Heathrow over the lifespan of the project is well documented, but importance of the early stages should not be underestimated. Building confidence, supporting up to 2,700 high-skilled jobs in the first 2-3 years, and laying the groundwork for larger construction job gains at a later date are all crucial, especially in the aftermath of the vote to leave the European Union. Fast-tracking infrastructure decisions, such as Heathrow expansion, must be part of the Government’s new industrial strategy”.


Jolyon Brewis, Partner at Grimshaw Architects LLP, said:

"Heathrow's Expansion Programme will represent a showcase for British talent and ingenuity on a world stage. Heathrow will continue to innovate, and set standards for infrastructure that the rest of the world will follow. We at Grimshaw are proud to play a part in this evolution, and look forward to designing the leading edge buildings, spaces and places that will define the next generation of airports across the world."






Notes to editors


The research is based on independent analysis of Heathrow tier 1 supplier recruitment strategies for major projects.