The Guardian - Gwyn Topham

Researchers argue that industry claims about benefits of more flights should be taken with pinch of salt

Claims that airport expansion will help grow the UK economy should be treated with scepticism, according to a report that finds air travel does not increase productivity or growth.

Declining business travel and lower wages in aviation undermine claims made by the industry for the value of increased air connections, say researchers at the New Economics Foundation.

A report by the NEF due to be published this week says that despite booming air travel in the past few decades, only one in 12 flights in 2022 was taken for business purposes – half the proportion in 2013 – while the number of associated jobs was lower than in 2007. Wages fell faster in real terms between 2008 and 2022 than in any other UK sector.

Far more passengers are flying on holiday abroad than into the UK, with the NEF report finding a £32bn “travel deficit” in net spending between outbound and inbound tourism in 2019.

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