ABTA report reveals the economic value of leisure aviation

ABTA, a UK-based association for travel agents, has published a specially commissioned report into the economic value of leisure aviation.

The study, conducted by the Centre for Economics Business Research (CEBR), was commissioned by ABTA to help understand the significance and economic worth of leisure aviation to the UK economy.

According to the report, leisure aviation contributed GBP14.1 billion of a Gross Value Added in 2010, nearly 1.1 percent of GDP, more than was contribution by the utilities, accountancy or advertising industries. The CEBR report reveals that the leisure industry accounts for 1.2 percent of total UK employment, equivalent to 289,000 full time jobs in 2010. The impact of leisure aviation on job creation goes beyond direct employment, with a further 246,000 employed by suppliers to the industry.

Leisure aviation also contributes to regional economies significantly, with leisure aviation in Wales, the North East and Northern Ireland – where economic stimulants and job opportunities are at a premium, accounting for the highest proportions of regional Gross Value Added contributions of between 1.4 and 1.5 percent. In terms of absolute impact, leisure aviation provides the largest contribution to the South East, London and North West economies.

Mark Tanzer, CEO of ABTA, commented, ‘This report makes an unarguable case for the importance of leisure aviation to the UK economy, as a wealth and job creator without which many air routes essential to the business health of the UK would simply not exist. The Government must recognise the key role leisure aviation plays in supporting the economy throughout the UK and ensure that support for the sector is built in to any future aviation strategy.’

The report also noted the sizeable contribution of leisure aviation to the UK’s business connectivity with the rest of world. The study found that on 428 of the 446 routes analysed from 2012, over half the passengers were travelling for leisure purposes, with half of the routes showing a leisure passenger share exceeding 90 percent. This appears to confirm that many routes essential to the business health of the UK would not be viable without the contribution of leisure travellers.

In addition, leisure passengers also help in supporting the viability of routes for business travellers to high growth economies, such as Brazil, India and the UAE. Leisure traveller numbers to countries with high growth economies grew by over 96.6 percent between 2002 and 2012. This translates to an increase of 4.2 million leisure passengers, alongside an increase in business passengers of 660,000.

Tanzer presented the findings of the report to the Airports Commission on July 9 in a hearing on demand and connectivity. He also presented ABTA’s views on what the Government needs to consider for developing a long-term aviation strategy for the UK.