New report shows UK aviation contributing £52 billion in overall GDP, 960,000 jobs and £8.7 billion in taxation

The UK aviation sector is now worth £52 billion in overall GDP, 960,000 jobs and £8.7 billion in taxation to the Treasury, according to an authoritative new report.

The study, commissioned by leading players from the aviation and tourism sectors and due to be published at the Annual Conference & Exhibition of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade body for UK airports, on 10 November, shows that all three elements of the sector’s contribution to the UK economy have grown.

The report, carried out by the respected consultancy, Oxford Economics, brings together data for airlines, airports and other ground-based infrastructure and aerospace manufacturing. It shows that aviation provides substantial economic benefits to the UK economy and its citizens, some of which are unique and essential to the operation of a modern economy.

The sector’s contribution to GDP is £51.966 billion, which equates to 3.4% of the whole UK economy, with the largest single contribution coming from airports and ground services, closely followed by aerospace and then airlines.

Its contribution to UK employment is 961,000 jobs (3.3% of the UK total), with airports and ground services contributing 433,000 jobs, aerospace 327,000 jobs and airlines 200,000 jobs.

The aviation sector’s direct tax contribution (excluding corporation tax) is £8.683 billion.

Those figures, for 2012, are all higher than comparable earlier data for 2009, which showed a contribution to GDP of £49.6 billion, to jobs of 921,000 and to direct taxation of £7.9 billion.

Commenting on the report, AOA Chief Executive, Darren Caplan, said:

  • “These figures underline once more just how important a growing aviation sector is to the performance of the UK economy. Our sector is a significant asset to UK plc, whether you measure the contribution in terms of GDP, jobs or overall tax-take. Add to that the part that it plays in helping other sections of the economy to grow and in connecting UK companies to new and exciting markets at home and overseas and it is easy to see that aviation is a major force for good that can be relied on to play a growing role in the economic recovery.
  • “The report also offers a warning to those who would wish to restrain aviation. We understand that we have a responsibility to grow sustainably and we are working hard to provide a cleaner, quieter and smarter offering through reducing carbon and noise emissions and developing game-changing technologies such as sustainable aviation fuels.
  • “Given how crucial aviation is to UK plc, we believe that politicians should support our sector by: promoting and implementing the 2013 Aviation Policy Framework, to encourage sustainable airport growth throughout the UK;  taking the long-awaited decision to expand runway capacity, by acting on the recommendations of Sir Howard Davies’ Airports Commission when it reports next summer; and reducing the UK’s current eye-wateringly high levels of Air Passenger Duty, which not only hurts passengers but also harms our connectivity.”


Nathan Stower, Chief Executive of the British Air Transport Association, the trade body for UK airlines, said:

  • “The UK is lucky to have such a competitive, dynamic and vibrant airline sector – offering choice and value to the travelling public and businesses alike. This report clearly illustrates the importance of the UK airline industry and the crucial role it plays in supporting economic growth and jobs, delivering mail and goods, linking friends and families around the world and allowing people to take holidays.”


Tony Hallwood, Aviation Development Director at Leeds Bradford International Airport, said:

  • ‘’As one of the fastest growing regional airports in the UK over the last five years, Leeds Bradford contributes significantly to the development of the Leeds City Region, the largest metropolitan region outside London. Employing almost 3,000 staff on site and supporting jobs across Yorkshire, the airport generates over £100m Gross Value Added (GVA) per annum. With a growing route network and airline portfolio LBA delivers worldwide flight connectivity directly to and from Yorkshire to support business growth and encourage inward investment.’’


Jon Riley, Infrastructure Planning lawyer and partner at global law firm Pinsent Masons LLP, said:

  • ‘’This report confirms the magnitude of the contribution made by the aviation sector to the economic well-being of the entire UK. It emphasises that connectivity creates exponential economic growth. To maximise the opportunity aviation presents, both to London and our regional airports, we need to improve Government focus on, and funding for, the first and final miles of the journey to and from the airport. Whether flights carry freight, friends and family, foreign tourists or investors, the attractiveness of the UK as a destination depends on smart, swift and sustainable surface access.”


Notes to Editors:


Aviation’s contribution of output and jobs to the UK


Aviation makes a substantial contribution to UK tax


Oxford Economics is “the world leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis for business and government, and the most trusted resource for decision-makers seeking independent thinking and evidence-based research”.

The following organisations have sponsored the development of the report: Airport Operators Association, Birmingham Airport, British Air Transport Association, British Airways, British Chambers of Commerce, easyJet, Edinburgh Airport, Gatwick Airport, Glasgow Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Heathrow Airport, Leigh Fisher, Leeds Bradford Airport, Liverpool Airport, London City Airport, Luton Airport, Manchester Airports Group, Pinsent Masons, SITA.