Earlier this month we published our report Manufacturing: Our Future in Europe. This showed the importance of the EU to manufacturers, our survey highlighted that almost 90% of EEF members sell directly or indirectly to customers in the EU and that 85% of manufacturers want Britain to remain a member of the EU.
As we recently shared, manufacturers rely on face to face communication for a variety of business activities, as a global sector these communications will require travel by air.
Additionally, manufacturers rely on air freight for exporting - almost 40% of the UK's exports of goods and commodities by value are air freighted and 70% of export-intensive manufacturers cite aviation infrastructure as critical or important to their firms. This is an important part of the debate on aviation capacity which is often missed.
As part of our Transport for Growth report we asked how important or essential it was to have direct flight connections to a range of destinations - something the Davies Commission will be deliberating as it looks at the need for additional aviation capacity. The only destination to receive a score from respondents of over 50% for being an 'essential' market was the European Union. Underscoring the importance of the EU to UK manufacturers.
Diving deeper into the figures to look just at export intensive manufacturers (i.e. exports accounts for 75% of their turnover), the importance of the EU is even starker. For this group, the EU is the only market where everyone agreed it was either important or essential for their business to have direct flight connections.
As we noted in our report, there is overwhelming support for the expansion of and connectivity to regional airports. Over 74% of respondents who expressed an opinion chose this as an option. When we dug deeper we found that for manufacturers in the South East - expansion of Heathrow was their priority, unsurprising given the importance of that airport for air freight.
Taken in the round what these figures do is reinforce the importance of the EU to manufacturers, while highlighting the importance it will continue to play as more and more manufacturers increase their exports in the future.