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The Business Case for
Farnborough Airport

There is a belief, repeated by some MPs and by some councillors, that Farnborough Airport makes a significant contribution to employment and net income to the borough and to the UK in general. That isn’t supported by the data.

In general, the growth in aviation in the UK has resulted in a net export of spending from the UK (as more people from the UK go abroad and spend money

vs visitors to the UK who spend money). While aviation enjoys significant subsidies compared to other forms of travel, it misses out in significant tax and revenue collections. It is also claimed that Farnborough Airport allows businessmen to do deals and generate income to the UK. This isn’t supported either as the majority of passengers using the airport are for leisure rather than business.


An Economic Impact Assessment was carried out for the airport (two years late….). People read the headlines that the airport provides 4,260 jobs and £193.7m income but this is misleading as it includes all businesses in the vicinity of the airport. It includes businesses that are IT, Marketing, Payroll and every other business that has nothing to do with the airport’s flight operations. The financial justification for flight operations is very low and has not improved much over the years. Half of FAL’s revenue is from fuel sales that generate no taxable income and most of the organisations that generate profit relating to flight operations are off-shore and do not contribute to the UK exchequer. Table 6.2 on Page 26 of the report states there are 808 FTE “on airport” jobs. Of those, only 149 relate to flight operations. Most of these 149 jobs are unskilled (security, cleaning, catering) and only about a third of those employees live in Rushmoor. In reality, the economic benefit is provided by the M3 corridor and the businesses it attracts from the existing skills base. It is not down to the airport’s operations. In fact most tenants surveyed by Lichfields said there was no benefit to them in the airport’s flight operations.

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