Our voice of business this month is:
Rupert Waters, Head of Economic Development, Heathrow.
As the UK’s only hub airport, Heathrow is a gateway to the world, providing frequent long-haul connections and linking local businesses and families to opportunities for work, travel and trade across the globe. In summer 2018, with an overwhelming majority, Parliament voted to approve the Airports National Policy Statement which provides support for a new runway at Heathrow. We are now working collaboratively to develop our plans for expansion, having undertaken two consultations this year, and are looking at how we can maximise benefits and build a long-term, sustainable legacy for Heathrow’s local area.
Over 76,000 people currently work at Heathrow in hundreds of different types of roles, and over half of these colleagues are from our local boroughs. Heathrow expansion means thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships for the local community, and with increased destinations and doubled cargo capacity, the project will create huge opportunities for businesses to reach out and trade with the world.
Heathrow expansion presents a unique opportunity for local businesses around the airport, including those in Buckinghamshire. It will grant them increased connectivity to new and existing domestic and international markets, while access to the airport itself will be made smoother with new roads, rail links and bus routes. Located just 40 minutes from Heathrow, this means Buckinghamshire business will be better connected, generating new opportunities for local business.
At Heathrow, we are committed to maximising business potential. For over 20 years, our annual Heathrow Business Summit has been held with the support of local Chambers of Commerce, local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships. The event gives SMEs the opportunity to connect and trade face to face with other businesses and Heathrow’s supply chain. Last month’s Business Summit attracted more than 270 SMEs.
Alongside our partnership with local business organisations, Heathrow spent over £54 million directly with SMEs last year. We are passionate about supporting local businesses and each year, in partnership with the Department of International Trade we award grants to UK SMEs as part of our World of Opportunity Programme which can be used to fund trade missions, research global markets and help grow UK SME exports.
In November 2017, Heathrow also became the first airport to be accredited as a Living Wage Employer. All new suppliers have been required to pay the Living Wage and not to use zero-hour contracts at the airport and we have produced a roadmap to ensure that existing suppliers guarantee employees the Living Wage by the end of 2020, equating to 3,200 additional people who will be paid the London Living Wage.
Heathrow expansion is a once in a generation opportunity that will benefit businesses across the UK, and in Buckinghamshire alike, through increased access to global markets, better domestic connectivity; improved local transport links and the creation of thousands of jobs. Located so close to Heathrow, Buckinghamshire’s businesses stand to benefit enormously.