New study by AEF shows airport expansion will destroy UK jobs

11.3.2009   (AEF press release)

          Link to Booklet (23 pages)      
          “Airport Jobs: false hopes, cruel hoax”       

A new study of the employment provided by airports and airlines from the economist
Brendon Sewill concludes that the Government should stop giving people false hopes
about the number of jobs which would be created by the expansion of airports (1).

 The study, “Airport Jobs: false hopes, cruel hoax“, published today by the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), shows Government claims that airport expansion will help create thousands
of new jobs to help the country through the recession to be based on unreliable
statistics. In fact, it finds that if the expansion results in more UK tourists
going abroad then the forecast growth in air travel is likely to lead to a net
loss of jobs in this country.

Sewill shows that the old rule of thumb that 1 million extra passengers using
an airport is likely to create 1,000 extra jobs is no longer valid.   The efficiency
of low-cost airlines means that far fewer jobs are created by airport expansion
than in the past. The move towards low-cost airports, where modern technology
replaces manual jobs, will accelerate that trend.

The study reveals that, between 1998 and 2004, when the number of passengers
using UK airports rose by 30%, the number of people employed directly at airports
went up by only 3%. Research by York Aviation, a consultancy close to the aviation
industry, found that despite a predicted increase of 110% in passenger numbers
at the country’s airports between 2004 and 2030 jobs would increase by only 21%.

Sewill argues that the York Aviation research takes no account of the number
of jobs that will be lost to the UK if the number of Britons holidaying abroad
continues to rise. Last year the UK’s aviation tourism deficit – the difference
between what British air passengers spend abroad and visitors by air spend in
the UK – was about £17 billion. That deficit is at present costing the country
around 900,000 jobs.

The Sewill study concludes that, because most of the predicted expansion is to
cater for UK citizens going abroad, the Government’s plans to double the amount
of air travel is likely to lead to a further net loss of 860,000 jobs by 2030.

Brendon Sewill said: "The Government, aided by the aviation industry, is perpetrating
a hoax that airport expansion is vital to the economy and will help us though
the recession. Councillors and planning officers are being misled by exaggerated
claims that the expansion of their local airports will create lots of extra jobs.
For example, ten years ago Manchester Airport claimed that its second runway would
create 50,000 extra jobs whereas in practice employment at the airport has increased
by only 4,000. The Government should admit that – when spending abroad is taken
into account – its airport expansion plans could actually produce a serious net
loss of jobs".

ENDS                   (AEF press release

Notes for Editors:

(1). The report and executive summary are at:
          “Airport Jobs: false hopes, cruel hoax”           


For further information:

Brendon Sewill        01293 863 369 or 01293 862 373

Tim Johnson, Director of Aviation Environment Federation,     0207 248 2223

John Stewart, Chair of AirportWatch,     0207 737 6641; 07957385650