A new report published today by Oxford Economics has found that £7.5 billion of international goods passed through Gatwick Airport in 2017 in trade that supported 113,800 UK jobs.
Metals/metal parts (£2 billion) and vehicles/ vehicle parts (£1.7 billion) were the two biggest goods categories traded through the gateway, followed by electronics (£773 million), machinery (£682 million) and pharmaceuticals (£588 million).
Over two thirds – or £5.3 billion (61,000 tonnes) – of this air freight was exported and £2.2 billion (35,600 tonnes) was imported. Gatwick’s total cargo tonnage is up by 20.4 per cent so far this year, compared to last.
The report also said the gateway’s 67-strong long haul as important for trade outside the EU as the vast majority of cargo passing through the airport goes in the belly of long haul passenger aircraft. Gatwick recently started a new Air China Airbus A330 belly service (pictured above) to China’s fourth largest city, Chengdu.
Top non-EU destinations for the Surrey, East and West Sussex region exports outside the EU are USA (£2.5 billion), China (£450 million), Japan (£250 million) and Russia (£200 million).
The report also looked at businesses that trade internationally in the seven local authorities in the Gatwick Diamond region and found them to be more export-focussed – with the proportion of businesses in the region sending goods to international markets 50 per cent greater than for the UK as a whole.
The report found that 11.3 per cent of Gatwick Diamond businesses exported goods compared to the UK average (7.2 per cent). The seven local authorities in the Gatwick Diamond are Epsom and Ewell, Reigate and Banstead, Horsham, Tandridge, Crawley, Mole Valley and Mid Sussex.
Local businesses are also well positioned for global trade – with 60 per cent of the Diamond’s exports going to non-European markets – again more than national average (51 per cent).
Chair of the Gatwick Growth Board and former transport minister, Steve Norris said: “Gatwick is a nationally significant infrastructure asset and today’s report shines a light on the £7.2 billion contribution it makes to the UK economy in terms of trade and investment.
“Much of the region’s economic activity is centred around the airport, which is why there is a greater concentration of company headquarters clustered in the region around Gatwick than in London.
“This constellation of high value industries attracts significant foreign investment and trade activity and the access the airport gives them to international markets is a key reason why they invest and locate in the region.”
Gatwick Diamond Business chief executive, Jeremy Taylor said despite the important role Gatwick plays supporting exports, the report showed “more can be done”.
“Too many businesses and cargo companies send their goods past Gatwick and round the M25 to Heathrow. As the airport’s long-haul network grows, so too do welcome opportunities for local firms to use Gatwick as their local global gateway,” he added.