Skip to Content
Saved Flights

Your Saved Flights

No Saved Flights


Exporting Excellence

How Heathrow supports businesses across the UK to boost exports, deliver jobs and generate economic growth.

Our latest report, Exporting Excellence, showcases how Heathrow supports businesses across the UK to boost exports, deliver jobs and generate economic growth. The report outlines how government, industry and business can continue working together to support export growth.

Exporting is the backbone of the UK economy. In 2022, the UK ranked fifth globally for total value of exports with exports adding roughly £900 billion to the economy and supporting around 300,000 businesses.

As the UK’s only hub airport, Heathrow is a vital partner to these businesses, helping to connect the whole of the UK to global growth. UK exports to non-EU nations via Heathrow were alone worth over £100 billion last year.

Hub connectivity makes this possible. It enables us to pool passenger and cargo demand to optimise trading opportunities for UK businesses. That’s how we reach 239 destinations in 89 countries across the world. And 95% of our air cargo travels in the belly hold of passenger aircraft.

However, as the UK export market has continued to grow and evolve, so too have the challenges and barriers many businesses face. Behind these barriers lies a wealth of untapped potential: around 375,000 SMEs produce exportable goods they are not currently exporting. The shortfall amounts to a potential export revenue of £290bn a year. Unlocking just 10% of this capacity could create up to 215,000 direct jobs and 50,000 additional jobs in professional and scientific sectors alone.

Through our conversations with businesses and Chambers of Commerce across the country, Heathrow has identified three key areas where business, Government and industry can work together to create a stronger export market for UK businesses. These are:

  1. Sustainability: UK exporters said that they want to be more sustainable. But this is challenging in a market where inflationary costs affect business operations and revenues. Businesses will not be able to decarbonise if the costs remain high. They are keen to export sustainably via air cargo powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF); businesses support the need for Government to go further and faster in delivering a domestic SAF industry.
  2. Customs modernisation: Businesses want a more modern customs process. While Heathrow welcomes the progress made towards digitalisation, further modernisation is needed to make exporting more efficient and effective.
  3. Skills: Many businesses are suffering from a shortage of exporting skills. Although exporting offers fulfilling career prospects and skills development, there is little awareness about exporting as a career. Further collaboration between industry, Government and local chambers of commerce is vital to show the opportunities a career in exports offers jobseekers and people leaving education.

As the economic importance of exports increases, there are significant opportunities for businesses to capitalise on. Heathrow is ready to help. As the UK’s only hub airport it will continue to enable international connectivity and provide access to new and emerging markets.


Our regional and devolved nation reports

See all of reports at a glance.