With the latest announcement from the Government that the expansion of Heathrow Airport has clearance to taxi, if not necessarily take off, in this report we will look at both the current market around Heathrow and at its prospects for the future.
Heathrow Airport lays 15 miles west of central London. The airport itself is in the London borough of Hillingdon but businesses serving it, and the airport’s workforce, are drawn from a very wide area including, but not limited to, the London boroughs of Hounslow and Ealing, Slough in Berkshire and Spelthorne in Surrey.
While the airport is not of course a city its area population at around 1.1m is comparable to that of Birmingham. A 2017 report from the Civil Aviation Authority said that the immediate population around Heathrow rose 21% between 1991 and 2011. According to ONS forecasts Hillingdon is currently amongst the ‘top ten’ fastest growing areas of the country in terms of population.
Heathrow Airport is the biggest driver in the local economy. It is estimated that 76,000 people are employed by the airport and companies operating there, while 38,000 more are directly reliant on it. A 2013 report commissioned by area Local Enterprise Partnerships said that the airport itself contributes £6.2bn to the UK economy. It added that the wider ‘western wedge’ area around Heathrow Airport generates £1 in every £10 of UK economic output and provides 2.4m jobs.
The area has proved popular as a business location over recent decades also because, as well as proximity to the airport and good local road links, operating costs are substantially lower than central London. According to the LEP report, key sectors in the area other than aviation include media, information and communication, healthcare, administration, professional, scientific and technical activities and retail.