Exports from Heathrow top £48 billion

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Heathrow Airport, American Airlines 777 on stand during cargo loading, May 2013.

Heathrow Airport’s pivotal role in the UK economy has been revealed in data released to the gateway by UK Customs, which shows £48 billion ($72.9 billion) worth of British goods were exported through the airport between August 2014 and July 2015.

This represents a 9.7 per cent increase on the previous 12 months, and makes up 26 per cent of all UK exports by value.

The export data was analysed by management consultants, Seabury, and found the growth was fuelled by vaccines for medicine experience with an almost 100 per cent growth, while Chinese demand for UK products continues to grow.

The data also showed more than £7 billion worth of British exports travelled to China via Heathrow between August 2014 and July 2015, representing a 117 per cent increase on the previous 12 months and more than 15 per cent of total UK export goods via Heathrow by value.

The research has been shared by Heathrow to celebrate British Export Week from  9-13 November, and reveals if the gateway had unconstrained capacity, the value of Britain’s exports to China via the airport would overtake the US as the biggest destination within two years. Asian nations already make up four of the top five UK export destinations by value.

The research shows the top five UK export destinations by value via Heathrow were the US (£14 billion), China (£7.6 billion), Hong Kong (£4.5 billion), United Arab Emirates (£4 billion) and India (£1.9 billion).

Although vaccines for human medicine are the UK’s sixth most valuable export via Heathrow, they have risen rising by 97 per cent and 87 per cent respectively over the previous two years – brought about by recent world health crises.

As the biggest port in the UK by value of goods, Heathrow has played an important role in exports and recently announced a proposed a blueprint plan to develop cargo facilities, overhaul processes, and people and grow UK cargo volumes.

This will support the UKTI and government’s drive to hit £1 trillion worth of UK exports by 2020.

Heathrow Airport, perimeter road, wayfinding signage, February 2013.

The top five UK export commodities by value via Heathrow were precious metals (£26 billion), aircraft turbojets (£3.3 billion), jewellery (£3 billion), medicaments (£2.8 billion) and paintings and drawings (£2.4 billion).

Other highlights of the research show the equivalent of 17,278 Airbus A380 passenger aircraft (more than 345,575 tonnes) of British produce was exported through Heathrow during August 2014 to September 2015.

Fresh salmon is the UK’s number one export by weight via Heathrow, with 46,000 tonnes exported in the most recent 12-month period.

Books and brochures are the UK’s second largest export by weight via Heathrow with over 20,000 tonnes exported in the 12 months leading up to July 2015.

Overcoats and raincoats are one of the biggest growth exports by weight via Heathrow, with a 60 per cent growth on 2014 figures, highlighting the continued growth of the British fashion and design sector.

Earlier today, Heathrow reports its cargo volumes for January to October 2015 are up 0.1 per cent, and on a rolling 12-month basis volumes are up 0.8 per cent. Cargo to and from emerging markets has risen 3.4 per cent over the past 12 months – notably to Turkey by 26 per cent.

In 2014 the airport handled around 1.5 million tonnes of cargo, making it the fourth busiest freight hub in Europe behind Frankfurt Airport in first, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in second and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in third.