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New research reveals 40% of all UK long-haul exports now travelling via Heathrow

Posted on in News

New research released today has found that Heathrow is the UK’s biggest port with over double the trade value of the UK’s second largest port by value, Southampton. UK exports passing through Heathrow in 2019 were worth £66.7 billion, equal to 40% of UK goods exports outside the EU and Switzerland.

In 2019, the total value of trade passing through Heathrow to and from destinations outside the EU and Switzerland was £140.9 billion, up considerably from £109.5 billion in 2018.

Heathrow’s position as the UK’s largest hub airport means it is able to combine direct passengers with transfer passengers, along with international cargo – which make its global network of trade routes viable to fly. As such, 95% of all trade that passes through Heathrow is cargo carried in the belly hold of passenger planes.

The research also looks into the export climate of the UK, creating the quarterly Export Climate Index (ECI). The latest index results show that the situation for exporters is currently very weak, driven in part by political tensions in the UK’s trading partners such as France. The ECI stood at -0.51 in Q4 2019, well below the -0.18 measured in Q3. The index was last lower than this is Q1 2013.

Other key results of the research are:

  • Heathrow moves £183million of exports from the UK every day to non-EU/Switzerland markets around the world.
  • The value of Heathrow exports has been rapidly increasing to stand at £5.7 billion per month on average in the second half of 2019.
  • The top destination for exports from the UK passing through Heathrow is the United States. In 2019, the UK exported goods worth £22 billion to the US through Heathrow, which is important as the government looks to forge new trading relationships.
  • Cebr estimates that the value of exports to the EU passing through Heathrow fell in 2019, to £6.8 billion down from £7.8 billion in 2018. This makes the EU the third-most important destination by value of exports passing through Heathrow.
  • After precious stones, metals and pearls, mechanical appliances (mostly made up of turbojets, turbo propellers and other gas turbines) is the most exported type of good traded through Heathrow. Data shows that in 2019, Heathrow exports of mechanical appliances reached a value of £13.1 billion, while imports were worth £11.0 billion

The full report can be downloaded from www.cebr.com

“The recent findings by Heathrow’s Trade Tracker with the CEBR - show the UK’s key air hub is handling 40% of the UK’s exports by value outside of the EU - highlights the importance of the decision to increase capacity at Heathrow.

Freight Transport Association, 27 February 2020

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