Last week we published the findings of our first major survey on transport issues. There was a clear message from manufacturers on aviation policy. Air links underpin export-led growth, but the UK's infrastructure needs investment to remain attractive to exporters.
The international connectivity provided by air links is vital to exports and manufacturing accounts for half of UK exports. Outward-looking manufacturers place a premium on quality aviation infrastructure. The majority of manufacturers for whom exports account for more than half of turnover say that aviation infrastructure is critical to their business. It's easy to understand why.
First, air freight carries 40% of the UK's exports of goods and commodities by value. It is particularly important for high-value, low weight, products in growth markets such as optical, electronic and medical equipment.
Second, our survey provides clear evidence that the more a manufacturing business exports, the more important aviation infrastructure is to growth-related activities like identifying new business opportunities, deciding where to invest and building relationships with customers.
We need to give these export-intensive businesses every reason to locate and expand in the UK. And world-class air links is a key consideration for them. Unfortunately, the current state of the UK's aviation infrastructure is acting as a barrier to their operations and growth plans.
Three-quarters view it as an impediment to building and sustaining relationships with customers, whilst more than half believe it gets in the way of managing their supply chains and moving their products. Crucially, more than a third see it as a barrier to investing in the UK.
So it is vital that the Airports Commission, the independent body established to look at the UK's capacity needs, takes full account of the importance of aviation to the UK's long-term growth prospects and the government's target to double the nation's exports to £1tn by 2020.
EEF will be making the case loud and clear.