02 June 2014 at 09.28 GMT
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Heathrow remains the second-most-used airport after Manchester for international business trips by travellers outside London and the southeast.
Aside from Manchester, more international business travellers from the regions use Heathrow as their starting airport than any other in the UK according to new research from the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC), presented at its annual overseas conference in Marrakech.
The next most popular was Birmingham, followed by Edinburgh and Glasgow, while Gatwick was in eighth position and Stansted 14th.
Findings from a survey of more than 1,000 business travellers from the UK regions revealed that more than half (56%) said that the single most important aspect relating to the journey to the airport was their distance from home.
However, despite this, half were not able to access all the markets they need due to a lack of accessibility from their closest airport, thereby forcing them to use a non-UK hub airport such as Amsterdam or Paris as the quickest way to get to their final destination.
More than one third (34%) said they use non-UK hub airports because of better and more convenient flight times, while a quarter (27%) use them because they are unable to get to the destinations they want direct from their closest airport.
In addition, when asked what they would do if Heathrow had a greater range of destinations, more than a third (34%) said they would switch from using a non-UK hub to the London hub.
Four out of five respondents (84%) called for more long-haul options out of regional airports, with nearly two thirds (60%) wanting long-haul flights to be direct.
GTMC chief executive Paul Wait said: “The message from regional business travellers is clear. Huge numbers of them are not flying from their closest regional airport or via a UK hub such as Heathrow as they simply don’t offer routes to the destinations they require.
“With no more capacity to increase the number of routes or their frequency, many opt to connect to their final destination via more well serviced foreign hubs such as Amsterdam’s Schiphol or Paris’s Charles de Gaulle. The UK economy therefore risks continuing to lose out.”
He added: “We strongly encourage the government and Davies Commission decision makers to look at our hub capacity and ensure that regional business travellers are provided with the range of destinations served from the UK where they want to do business.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly