Gatwick's strong revival will create the business environment necessary to diversify the region’s economy, according to new report

Gatwick's strong revival is critical to the region's economic recovery and will help create the dynamic, connected and innovative business environment necessary to diversify the region’s economy, according to a new report – Gatwick’s Economic Value - published today (Tuesday, May 18).

Diversifying the region’s economy and making it more resilient has become an important objective for several local economic partners following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new report by economics consultants, Lichfields, says that a revived Gatwick would support the region’s economic diversification by making the area attractive to new and emerging industrial clusters, including digital, advanced manufacturing and green technologies.

Gatwick Airport

In response, Gatwick has today committed to continue to work with its local partners and help the region attract new economic clusters and - given the scale of the challenges facing the area following the pandemic - the airport also committed today to develop a range of employment, skills, sustainable growth and supply chain initiatives that aim to:

- Grow its workforce and – by reviving the airport - support more jobs across the region than ever before

- Provide labour market entry points for young people, including through apprenticeships and graduate programmes, and facilitate training in response to technological innovation in aviation and associated sectors

- Promote a clean, green recovery by building on commitments to reach net zero for the airport’s own operations and through involvement in UK industry plans to reach net zero aircraft emissions by 2050

- Ensure the airport’s procurement and supply chain spending targets businesses based in the region

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive, Gatwick Airport, said: “By working together, we can harness the extraordinary benefits the airport delivers to help the region rebuild, diversify and become more resilient following the devastating impact the pandemic has had on jobs, businesses and communities across the local area.

“As an airport, we plan to maximise the benefits we provide for local people, communities and businesses through a range of initiatives that focus on skills, employment, sustainability and our extensive supply chains, which support many thousands of jobs across the South East.

“We will also continue to work closely with our partners on their ambitious plans to diversify the region’s economy. Many established businesses tell us the airport was an important factor in their decision to locate in this region. We want to build on that by making sure the area is once again an attractive, innovative and well-connected place to invest and locate a business.”

Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive at Coast to Capital, said: “Gatwick Airport is vital to the regional economy.

"It is one of the best-connected places in the UK with huge potential to drive economic growth. Gatwick’s Economic Value report creates a vision to attract public and private investment and deliver the infrastructure that the region needs. To do this, we must leverage development of the airport by making a full contribution to economic recovery. We look forward to playing a full part in delivering this plan, the scale of the challenge requires the participation of all communities and economic sectors to allow all parts of our region to meet their economic potential.”

Ana Christie, CEO, Sussex Chamber of Commerce, said: “These reports provide valuable evidence on just how important the airport is for the region’s economy, not just in terms of the jobs and economic contribution but also the central role it can play attracting new business clusters to Sussex. I’m looking forward to working closely with the airport to turn the predictions in these reports into reality so that together we can make the most of the economic opportunities we have on our doorstep.”

Jeff Alexander, Chief Executive, Gatwick Diamond Business and the Gatwick Diamond Initiative said: “Gatwick Airport has for decades driven the growth and competitiveness of the Gatwick Diamond economy. Some of the benefits of having a major international airport on our doorstep are obvious – the convenience of a well-located and superbly connected domestic and international travel hub and the direct jobs supported are obvious examples.

"What this report demonstrates is that, even in very difficult times, the ripple effect with benefits spreading across the regional and national economies is immense, impacting way beyond the aviation sector itself.

"So, as representatives of businesses in the Gatwick Diamond, we welcome this timely report. It does not duck the challenges, but points to a positive future backed by Gatwick’s continuing commitment to invest in its operations and infrastructure. Our businesses and our people need a successful Gatwick as the catalyst for our economic recovery and to attract the investment needed to ensure our longer-term economic and social wellbeing.”

A further new report – The Economic Impact of Gatwick Airport - published today by economists, Oxera, also shows how the return of air traffic to levels forecast before the pandemic would support over 50,000 new on-airport, supply chain and other business-related jobs across West and East Sussex, Surrey and Kent by 2028. These new jobs would be in addition to the 69,000 jobs the airport was shown to provide on-airport, in its supply chain and other business-related jobs during the pandemic in 2020.

The research also demonstrates that the airport could generate up to £8.4 billion for the region’s economy by 2028 – compared to £4.1 billion GVA in 2020. Put another way, the airport would support economic activity that could generate enough tax receipts to provide over 220,000 primary school places or over 70,000 nurses across West and East Sussex, Surrey and Kent by 2028 – more than twice as many as in 2020.