The UK government and local authorities like to think that airports are good for the economy, however hard facts tell a very different tale.
In every region of the country, except London, airports take more money out of the country than they bring in. This phenomenon is called the tourism deficit– that is, more money is taken out of the country by Britons flying abroad and spending in foreign countries than what foreign visitors spend in the UK. In the Northwest alone this deficit amounts of to the loss of 94000 jobs in the tourism industry which are literally flown out of the region, or an estimated financial loss of £2.2 billion. If flight numbers continue to grow at regional airports, it is likely that this deficit will grow, with the potential result that more jobs will be exported, and the regional economy will be less healthy.
“There is a direct link between the decline of resorts like Margate and Morecombe and the number of UK citizens visiting Majorca and Morocco.” Airportwatch 2009 Briefing Paper
Airports also like to argue that they contribute to local economies by attracting investment and businesses to the region and the new Enterprise Zone is just one example of this. However, questions have been raised by recent surveys about the actual importance of the presence of an airport in doing this. Whilst there are some benefits to some businesses of having an airport in the locality, these benefits do not rely on continual expansion of the airport.
“The relationship between high growth sectors in the region and air travel appears to be weak.” South West Regional
Development Agency study