The study, due to be unveiled later today at the Airport Operators Association (AOA) annual conference, shows that all three elements of the sector’s contribution to the UK economy have grown.
According to the Oxford Economics report, the sector’s contribution to GDP is £51.9 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 £8.6 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.”
He adds: “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.”
Jon Riley, infrastructure planning lawyer and partner at global law firm Pinsent Masons LLP, echoed the reports findings.
He notes: ‘’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.”