What are the top 5 UK/USA imports and exports via Heathrow?


By Heathrow

Published 27th January 2017

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Did you know almost £28bn of trade goods between the UK and the USA travelled via Heathrow in 2015? As the UK’s busiest port by value, Heathrow plays a key role in trade between the nations with medical products, antiques, vaccines, turbojets and hand paintings among the most traded items! Find out what the top 5 UK imports and exports with the USA, via Heathrow, are below!

The transatlantic relationship between the UK and the USA is an economically important one for the both countries, with over £80.5bn of trade goods passing between the two in 2015!

Of these goods, 35% travelled via Heathrow – most in the bellyhold of passenger aircraft.

The top 5 exports

31% of the UK’s exports to the USA went via Heathrow in 2015, totalling £13,893m! Human vaccines (£2,108.6m) were by far the most exported product to the UK via Heathrow –96% of the total of these goods that passed through all UK ports.

The top 5 exports to the USA via Heathrow in 2015 were:

  • Human vaccines – £2,108.6m

  • Medical products – £1,670.3m

  • Hand paintings – £1,470.6m

  • Parts of aeroplanes or helicopters – £665.1m

  • Biochemistry products (nucleic acids, heterocyclic compounds) – £59.8m

The top 5 imports

Imports from the USA via Heathrow totalled £14,023m – or 40% of the UK’s total. Turbojet parts (£1,316.4m) were the number one commodity, however, surprisingly hand paintings and antiques, over 100 years old, were also in the top 5!

The top 5 imports by value were:

  • Turbojet parts – £1,316.4m

  • Medical products – £585.2m

  • Hand paintings – £574.8m

  • Parts of aeroplanes or helicopters – £473m

  • Antiques of > 100 years old – £293.1m

29% of the UK’s non-EU trade goes via Heathrow each year

The statistics further highlight the importance of Heathrow to the UK’s trading strength, with 29% of the UK’s non-EU exports go via the airport each year. Taking into account all imports and exports via the airport, over £117.9bn of UK trade was via Heathrow in 2015 – this is more than Felixstowe (£50.3bn) and Southampton (£51.3bn), the UK’s two biggest shipping ports, combined!

NOTE: Full data and calculations can be found, here.

To celebrate Australia Day 2017 and bring some Aussie sunshine to London, Qantas and Heathrow have installed a pop-up beach at the airport’s Terminal 3 forecourt today.

The event celebrates the Australian national holiday and Heathrow’s successful partnership with Qantas as part of the airport’s 70th birthday celebration campaign. Travellers visiting the stand will experience a taste of Australia, including sweet treats and entertainment by a live acoustic band playing classic Aussie songs by Kylie Minogue and INXS.

Competition winners to take “The Ultimate Trip” to Sydney with Qantas…

Qantas’ collaboration with Heathrow around their 70th birthday celebrations launched in May 2016, with a competition to win one of 35 pairs of Qantas flights for ‘The Ultimate Trip’ to Sydney.

Travellers submitted their favourite Heathrow memory and the 70 winners will fly out this May to experience Sydney’s VIVID festival. Some of the competition winners are joining Qantas’ Australia Day celebrations at Heathrow to share their heartwarming stories.

One of the lucky winners, Kelly Jones, who hopes to meet her childhood Australian pen pal on her winning trip said, ‘I am very excited to finally meet a close friend that I have kept in touch with for 23 years – sharing stories of wedding days, new babies and the ups and downs of life. Heathrow will no doubt play a huge part in this very special day, and it will be a memory I cherish forever’.

Markus Svensson, Qantas Regional General Manager UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa said the pop-up also celebrates the exciting new era for Qantas in the UK, including its new non-stop London to Perth flights.

“Australia Day is all about celebrating the best of Australia, no matter where you are in the world. When London to Perth flights launch next year, UK travellers will be able to experience Australia firsthand with our non-stop services. But today, Qantas and Heathrow are bringing the Aussie summer to them.”

Qantas flying to Heathrow for nearly 70 years…

Jonathan Coen, Heathrow’s Customer Services Director said: “We are delighted to give passengers a ‘warm’ Aussie welcome to Terminal 3 on this chilly January day. We have had a fantastic year working with Qantas celebrating our birthday and hearing all the exciting stories from passengers travelling with us. Here’s to the next 70 years of stories.”

Qantas has been flying to Heathrow for nearly 70 years, and Heathrow was also the departing location when Qantas set the record in 1989 for the world’s longest non-commercial flight. The Qantas 747-438 flew 18,001 kms, non-stop between London and Sydney, in 20 hours, nine minutes and five seconds.

Qantas has launched a special ‘Australia Day Flash Deal’ for flights from London Heathrow to Australia. Fares from Heathrow to Sydney start from just £615, return Economy. The deal is valid from 26 January until 31 January 2017, unless sold out before. To book, visit qantas.com.

Heathrow has achieved its best ever quarterly “Airport service quality” passenger satisfaction scores – with 84% of passengers rating their experience as “excellent” or “very good” in the last quarter of 2016. The results follow a year of investments in improving services at the UK’s hub airport.

The record score also included Terminal 5 receiving its highest ever ASQ score, while Terminal 2 continued to deliver an outstanding performance.

More than 84% of total passengers, or 15.3 million, using the airport from October to December 2016 rated their Heathrow experience as excellent or very good in the survey. This is an increase of 640,000 passengers compared to the same period last year.

The record scores follows the introduction of a number of additional passenger services across Heathrow: new Mr Adventure play areas for kids with Mr Men in all terminals, a new personal shopping lounge in Terminal 5, more passenger ambassadors in every terminal, and a number of exciting pop up shops and restaurants including Harry Potter in Terminal 5.

Terminal 2 leads the way with 86% satisfaction

Terminal 2, home of Star Alliance airlines, continued to delivered an outstanding performance, with a score of 4.29. Terminal 3’s new eco-sanctuary “Garden Gate,” contributed to it reaching a record score of 4.14.

Terminal 5 had its best ever passenger satisfaction score performance at 4.16 and Terminal 4 achieved another record-breaking 4.18 ASQ score.

Normand Boivin, Heathrow Chief Operating Officer, said, “We are delighted our hard work has been recognised by our most important critics, our passengers.”

“We are committed to delivering the world’s best airport service and this year we will build on this success by further improving transfer passengers’ experience, reducing time at immigration and delivering a more personalised service for all passengers in 2017.”

“We will continue to find new ways to make them feel excited about coming to Heathrow as well as delivering a high standard of service for years to come.” – Heathrow COO, Normand Boivin

The record passenger satisfaction were also delivered alongside record passenger numbers in 2016. In total almost 76 million people travelled through Heathrow last year.

A year of awards…

2016 was also an incredible year of accolades for Heathrow. The airport was named the “Best Airport in Western Europe” for the second consecutive year at the Skytrax World Airport Awards.

The award, voted for globally by passengers, came in addition to Terminal 5 being voted the world’s “Best Airport Terminal” and Heathrow “Best Airport for Shopping” for the fifth and seventh consecutive years respectively. Finally, Heathrow also achieved ACI Europe’s “Best Airport Award” for the third time.

Heathrow, as the UK’s hub, helps Britain and Northern Ireland reach more of the world than any other airport. We’ve taken a closer look at the fast facts behind this global reach.

Fast facts:

  • 194 destinations, across 82 countries, are available from Heathrow;

  • Heathrow is the only UK airport to provide direct flights to each of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) nations;

  • Over 200 of the UK’s top 300 company HQs are within a 25-mile radius of Heathrow;

  • 94% of Heathrow passengers travel on international flights;

  • New destinations in the last 12 months include Santiago (Chile), Jakarta (Indonesia), San Jose (California, USA)

  • In recent years Heathrow has welcomed a number of national carriers of emerging nations including Garuda Indonesia, Vietnam Airlines, and Avianca Airlines (Colombia);

  • 29% of the UK’s long-haul goods by value travelled via Heathrow in 2015 – by comparison 0.2% travelled via Gatwick;

  • Passenger numbers to emerging markets in the Middle East (+16.9%) and Asia (+3.2%) were strong drivers of Heathrow’s record 2016 year which saw almost 76 million people travel through the airport;

  • 1.54 million metric tonnes of cargo travelled through Heathrow in 2016.

UPDATE (1 Feb, 2017): What are the Top 10 trading nation partners the UK could look to trade with post-Brexit? We’ve teamed up with WPI to launch a Trade Prospects index. Find out more, here.

How can Heathrow expansion help Britain’s reach grow further…

Heathrow expansion, recently announced as the Government’s preferred option for airport expansion, has the potential to create up to 40 new direct long-haul destinations from Heathrow. Find out more, via our Expansion website, here.

A concept impression of an expanded Heathrow. Source: Grimshaw.

Heathrow welcomed 76 million passengers in 2016, or the equivalent of 3 full Millenium Stadiums of people every day, results released today have revealed. The record was set in a year that also saw Heathrow celebrate its 70th birthday and cargo via the UK’s hub increase to over 1.5 million tonnes of cargo.

The 76 million passengers (+1%) equates to a daily average of 206,800 people travelling through the airport every day. These passengers were travelling via 81 different airlines in 2016, to 194 destinations, across 82 countries.

Over 1.5 million metric tonnes of cargo (+3) travelled alongside these passengers. In perspective, that annual cargo amount is the weight equivalent of 118,000 London buses, some 7,500 Angels of the North or nearly 30 fully-loaded Queen Elizabeth II ocean liner.

Triple Skytrax celebration highlights award-winning year

Heathrow’s passenger and cargo successes were recognised through numerous awards through the year including Skytrax’s “Best Airport in Western Europe” (2nd time), “Best Airport for Shopping”, and “World’s Best Airport Terminal” (Terminal 5 – 5th time).

Larger, quieter and more efficient aircraft continued to be a driver for growth in passenger volumes at Heathrow. In 2016, around 40% of Heathrow’s long haul passengers travelled on cleaner and quieter new generation aircraft, such as Airbus A380s, A350s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners – up from around 25% in 2015 and helping to reduce the airport’s impact on local communities.

In a major boost for the economy, the Government announced its support for a new runway at Heathrow – the first full-length runway in the south east since the second world war. The Government will begin consulting on a national policy statement early this year

December results – 6.2 million passengers set month record

December passenger volumes alone set a new record for Heathrow, with 6.2 million passengers travelling through the airport (+4.4%).

Passengers to emerging markets in the Middle East (+16.9%) and Asia (+3.2%) continued to be drivers for growth as well as strong performance on North American segments (+2.1%).

Cargo growth was also strong, with trade through Heathrow increasing 5.1% driven in particular by growth to emerging market destinations such as Brazil up (+18.6%), India (+12.1%) and China (+8.3%).

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye commented on the results, saying, “Heathrow celebrated 70 years as the country’s front door in 2016 and I’m proud that we were able to end this year on such a high note.”

“Whether it was welcoming back a triumphant Team GB from Rio or giving that special Heathrow service to a record number of passengers, increasing Britain’s trade with the rest of the world or securing Government support for expansion – Heathrow is Britain’s airport and we will continue to help all of our country thrive for decades to come.” – Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye

Fast facts about Heathrow’s record 2016:

  • Top 5 routes: New York (JFK), Dubai, Dublin, Amsterdam, Hong Kong

  • Number of airlines: 81

  • Number of destinations: 194

  • Number of countries served: 82

  • Busiest Day: 257,922 passengers (31 July 2016)

In good news for passengers going to and from Scotland, Flybe and Virgin Atlantic have announced they’ll be offering codeshare flights via Heathrow from March. Scottish travellers will now be able to book flights to interesting destinations including Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, and Dubai thanks to the agreement!

The following is a press release issued by Virgin Atlantic on Monday.

Scottish travellers can now book flights to international destinations including Los Angeles, Boston, Seattle, and Dubai – thanks to closer cooperation between Virgin Atlantic and Europe’s leading regional airline, Flybe.

From today customers will be able to book tickets to travel from Edinburgh and Aberdeen with Flybe, and connect onto Virgin Atlantic flights at London Heathrow.

New Services: The new Flybe codeshare flights to London Heathrow will operate from 26th March– offering four services per day from Edinburgh Airport, and up to three services per day from Aberdeen Airport.

The new Flybe codeshare flights to London Heathrow will operate from 26th March– offering four services per day from Edinburgh Airport, and up to three services per day from Aberdeen Airport.

The agreement will mean customers can seamlessly connect between Flybe and Virgin Atlantic with a single check in and bag drop. It will also open up a number of new destinations for Scottish travellers, and help boost inbound tourism and investment.

New destinations on offer from Aberdeen and Edinburgh via London Heathrow include (full list below):

  • Los Angeles from £498 return
  • San Francisco from £498 return
  • Boston from £398 return
  • Washington from £418 return
  • Hong Kong from £445 return

Erik Varwijk, Executive Vice President, Commercial, Virgin Atlantic commented, “Our partnership with Flybe will bring the world a little closer to Scotland with exciting new Virgin Atlantic destinations available across the US, Asia, and Africa. The extended codeshare agreement builds on the partnership we announced last year which has proved popular with customers across the UK.

“We look forward to offering easy connections to some of our most popular destinations such as the US cities of San Francisco and Boston, as well as helping to boost business and investment with access to major hubs such as Hong Kong and Dubai.”

Vincent Hodder, Flybe’s Chief Revenue Officer, adds: “Flybe is especially delighted that this extension of our valued codeshare partnership with Virgin will enable us to better serve Scottish travellers and global visitors, further realising our ambition of being a ‘One Stop to the World’ for the UK regions.”

“We greatly look forward to cementing our commitment to Scotland and welcoming even more Virgin passengers on board our new Heathrow flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh when they start at the end of March.” – Flybe CEO, Vincent Hodder

Virgin Atlantic offers flights from London Heathrow to: Atlanta, Boston, Delhi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Shanghai and Washington.

British Airways new direct route between London Heathrow and Santiago, Chile, celebrated its first flight overnight. Santiago has become the airline’s, and the UK’s, lengthiest non-stop long-haul route, taking 14 hours 40 minutes, nearly an hour more than the current longest flight of 13 hours 50 minutes service to Buenos Aires.

BA251 departed at 22:00hrs (GMT) last night to kick-start the four flights per week service. BA will operate the airline’s newest aircraft on the route – the four-cabin Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, complete with new First cabin.

Santiago is the latest destination in Latin America to join British Airways’ route network. The airline recently launched new services to San Jose in Costa Rica and Lima in Peru. In addition, it also operates flight to Rio and Sao Paulo in Brazil and Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO of British Airways said when the route was announced in May 2016, “In recent years we have been increasing our services to South and Central America reflecting the area’s continued growth in both business and tourism. This year we’ve already launched flights to Costa Rica and Peru, and the addition of Santiago will secure another important link between the UK and the region.”

The new route will be serve d by British Airways’ new Boeing Dreamliner 787-9s Source: British Airways.

“The Chilean economy has been steadily growing, with increasing trade links to Europe so this new direct route will respond to the need for travel between the two Capital cities to do business face-to-face.

“Equally, Chile is of enormous appeal to leisure travellers, especially those looking for adventure, exploration and experiences, thanks to its outstanding and diverse natural beauty and attractions and its great food and wine.” – British Airways CEO, Alex Cruz

More about Chile

There’s something for everyone in Chile as a destination. Sports enthusiasts can enjoy skiing and snowboarding around Santiago, trekking around the Andes or water-sports along the extensive coast-line.

Source: British Airways

Thanks to the country’s natural wonders, from the driest desert in the world, to the lakes and glaciers, and the huge swathes of national park there’s many different animals and birds to be seen.

Chile also has a rich culture to explore, from Easter Island with its Moai statues to Valparaiso’s old quarter, which has UNESCO heritage site status. The city of Santiago is also fascinating and the region’s food and drink, especially the wine, is renowned. And thanks to all that coastline and the islands around Chile, there’s plenty of beach holidays for travellers wanting a relaxing break.

More details about the new Heathrow/Santiago route…

The new Santiago flight will depart from Heathrow on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 22:00 and arrive in Santiago at 09:40 local time the following day. The return flight will depart at 18:45 arriving back in London at 12:05 local the following day.

Did you know? The distance of the new route from Heathrow to Santiago is approximately 11,645km, while Buenos Aires is 11,083km.

Although this is British Airways’ first direct flight to Santiago, the airline previously operated there as a ‘tag-on’ from Buenos Aires between 1993 and 2000.

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner has 216 seats and is the most technologically advanced aircraft in British Airways fleet.

Swansea-based toy business, Bildy, and its entrepreneur owner Jayne Bromfield have won Heathrow’s £5,000 SMEptember Business Development Grant competition.

Heathrow’s #SMEptember competition was part of a month-long celebration of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the contribution they make to the UK’s economy.

Grant will help Jayne, a mum of two and founder of the Bildy toy company increase production from 100 to over 1,000 a month, entering new markets in the UK and abroad.

From cardboard boxes to castles, cars and houses…

When Jayne Bromfield’s two daughters took more of an interest in playing with a cardboard box than the toy it was packaging, she saw an opportunity to create a revolutionary new toy. Bildy Megaboard encourages children to build modular structures in which they can play to their imagination’s content. Starting out in her Swansea studio, Jayne’s business is growing every day and a £5,000 grant from Heathrow will go towards new production equipment to boost her business.

Bildy Megaboards are screen-printed sets of cardboard that can be built into structures such as castles, cars and houses. Jayne already exports some of her products but this grant will help her manufacture in a large enough quantity to break into markets such as Russia and the United States.

Jayne recently flew with the business group Enterprise Nation from Heathrow on a trade mission to New York to showcase her product to buyers, who were immediately interested in what the Swansea mum had to offer.

Jayne beat other entries from SMEs based all over the UK to win the Heathrow Business Development Grant, part of the airport’s #SMEptember campaign – a month-long celebration of the innovation, ingenuity and creativity that SMEs bring to the UK economy, unlocking jobs and growth in every region and nation.

Receiving the cheque from Heathrow’s Chairman Lord Deighton in December, Jayne said, “This £5,000 grant will enable me to start automating the screen-printing process and increase production as well as the opportunity to exhibit Bildy at trade shows to gain the exposure it needs to grow.”

“It’s these measures that will hopefully help me to get Bildy into high street retailers and break into the international markets I am aiming for.” – Heathrow’s Chairman Lord Deighton

An architect’s vision of expansion at Heathrow. Source: Grimshaw Architects.

Lord Deighton added, “Jayne’s creativity and dedication to making children happy is only matched by her entrepreneurial spirit.”

“Heathrow’s commitment to work with SMEs from every corner of the UK is underpinned by our five SME guarantees, ensuring that they are part of our supply chain and have the right opportunities to gain exposure for their products.” – Lord Deighton

“We’re delighted to be helping Jayne take the first steps towards growing her business and I look forward to seeing how she gets on.”

Heathrow’s five SME pledges…

As the UK’s biggest port by value (carrying over £101bn of Britain’s exports each year), Heathrow has made five pledges to SMEs to ensure that not only do they have access to the airport’s supply chain but that they also have the opportunity to export their products and services by awarding travel grants for entrepreneurs seeking to go international.

  • Develop the successful Heathrow Business Summits across the UK. These bring together SMEs with Heathrow’s procurement team and the airport’s principal suppliers.

  • As a signatory to the Prompt Payment Code, ensure suppliers are paid on time and ensure this practice flows down through the airport’s supply chain into SMEs.

  • Establish a new Innovation Networking Forum to reach out to SMEs and start-up organisations in the innovation and technology sector.

  • Offer SMEs access to the millions of international passengers at Heathrow, by brokering deals between stockists and World Duty Free and other retail tenants.

  • Establish a grants programme awarding up to £2,000 for SMEs to spend on travel and trade missions to help SMEs reach new markets.


By Heathrow

Published 2nd January 2017