A report prepared for VisitBritain. UK Economic Losses Due to Volcanic Ash Air Travel Restrictions

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1 A report prepared for VisitBritain UK Economic Losses Due to Volcanic Ash Air Travel Restrictions

2 Contents 1 Introduction Passenger Impacts Transport Sector Impacts Total Potential Losses Actual Transportation Sector Losses Destination Impacts Potential Impacts Net Destination Impacts Summary of Full Impacts... 9

3 1 Introduction On 14 April, 2010, Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano spewed an ash plume which spread broadly across European airspace. Concerns over engine safety caused an interruption in global air traffic to an extent not seen since 11 September, 2001 and the largest breakdown in European civil aviation since World War II. The closure of large portions of European air space over the week April disrupted global travel, trade and business. The effects of the crisis extend far beyond the direct impact on the air transport industry. The impact has been felt acutely by travellers and destinations; exporters and those reliant on imported inputs; as well as general production and productivity. This report estimates on the economic losses realised by the United Kingdom. The focus of the analysis is on the initial week of the crisis, where the majority of impact has occurred. However, periodic flight cancellations have continued at irregular intervals, extending the impacts through the third week of May, This study may be used as an indicator of potential impacts moving forward. Summary of Volcano Impact Findings Just fewer than 2 million potential air passengers through UK airports were affected through 20 May. In total, the airspace shutdown cost the UK tourism economy significant losses. Out of a potential total direct sales loss of 741 million, 425 million (57%) was realised by UK businesses after netting out deferred travel, stranded traveller spending, and substitute destinations and transport modes. This represents 0.5% of total tourism-related sales as projected for Out of a total potential transportation sector loss of 375 million, 85% ( 321 million) will be fully realised by the aviation sector. However, only 69% ( 258 million) of the potential loss will be experience by the transportation sector more broadly due to alternative modes of travel. Based on the total number of UK inbound and domestic travellers who were unable to embark on their trips during the airspace shutdown, the UK tourism economy would have forfeited 365 million in visitor spending at UK destinations. The net visitor spending impact for UK destinations is estimated at 166 million in lost revenues, primarily to hospitality sectors. The net impact on UK GDP is estimated to be 466 million when including indirect and induced impacts. This represents 0.4% of tourism s GDP contribution as projected for The related impact on full time equivalent employment would be 10,231 jobs based on average GDP per employee. 2

4 2 Passenger Impacts European commercial flights were first affected 15 April, declining 27.1% from the previous week, according to Eurocontrol. Traffic steadily declined over the following days as the cloud moved over the continent with cancellations reaching their zenith of 80% on 18 April. Air traffic volumes were nearly 20,000 lower than in the previous week at around 5,000 flights compared with 25,000. For the seven day period from April, more than 100,000 fewer flights traversed European airspace than in the previous week, a 53% fall. Air traffic resumed to near-normal levels on 22 April with over 27,000 flights to and/or from European airports. However, some flight schedules remained backlogged in subsequent weeks as airlines balanced the demands of cancelled and current itineraries. Additional sporadic airspace closures resulted in another roughly 5,000 cancelled flights. In the United Kingdom, this resulted in a dramatic reduction in air travel in April and modest declines into the month of May. Just fewer than 2 million potential UK air passengers were affected through 20 May. The majority 1.1 million were UK outbound travellers. Another 547,000 potential visitors to the UK were deterred from travelling while 291,000 UK domestic air passengers were kept from flying during this period. Figure 2-1: Passengers Affected in April and May Reduction in UK Trips 1,200,000 1,000, , ,000 UK Domestic Rest World N America Europe 400, ,000 - Inbound Outbound Domestic Source : Civil Aviation Authority, Oxford Economics 3

5 On a percentage basis, domestic flights were the most impacted, with over 25% of all UK flights cancelled in April and another 6% cancelled in May. International flights did not fare much better with both inbound and outbound contracting over 20% in April. Figure 2-2: Percentage UK Passenger Reductions 0% UK Inbound UK Outbound UK Domestic -5% -10% -15% -20% -25% April May -30% Source : Civil Aviation Authority, Oxford Economics 4

6 3 Transport Sector Impacts 3.1 Total Potential Losses Gross aviation sector losses in the UK tallied 375 million in April and May These impacts are measured on the expenditure, or fare, side of the equation and are felt directly by both airlines and airports. The table below shows the revenue impacts to both airlines and airports through 20 May before any offsets of either deferred travel or other means of transportation. Based on average fare analysis, the gross potential impact for airlines serving passengers through UK airports is 569 million. However, a proportion of these losses were realised outside of the UK tourism economy by foreign carriers and international operations. The gross potential revenue impact realised by UK airlines alone is 315 million. Gross Aviation Sector Impacts Passengers affected Average fare (round trip) Total airline loss* UK airline loss** UK Airport loss*** Total UK Aviation Impact Total 1,979, ,788, ,488,121 59,830, ,318,326 UK Inbound 547, ,840,926 19,449,679 3,688,501 23,138,180 Europe 430, ,163,053 8,706,672 1,651,162 10,357,834 N America 64, ,598,174 6,884,800 1,305,656 8,190,456 Rest world 52, ,079,698 3,858, ,683 4,589,890 UK Outbound 1,141, ,454, ,545,240 50,358, ,904,113 Europe 890, ,806, ,341,921 22,822, ,163,959 N America 98, ,788,177 70,371,551 13,345,492 83,717,043 Rest World 151, ,859,326 74,831,769 14,191,343 89,023,111 UK Domestic 290, ,493,202 30,493,202 5,782,831 36,276,033 * Includes foreign carriers in and out of UK airports ** Only UK-based airline operations *** Source: AOA, Oxford Economics for regional distribution In addition, airports experienced a loss of revenue of an additional 60 million as reported by the UK Airport Operators Association (AOA). The total UK aviation sector potential loss tallied 375 million. The majority (84%) of the aviation sector impact was driven by declines in UK resident outbound travel given the large number of travellers affected as well as the higher proportion of UK airlines used. The impact of cancelled domestic flights (10% of the total) is realised completely by UK airlines while the inbound traveller impact (6% of the total) is relatively low due to a high proportion of foreign carrier usage. 5

7 3.2 Actual Transportation Sector Losses The eventual losses within the transportation sector must factor in the likelihood that some travel, both leisure and business, will be deferred and eventually taken. In addition, while the aviation sector suffered acutely during the periods of airspace closure, other transportation sectors (particularly rail and ferry travel) benefited as travellers sought alternative modes of returning home or embarking on a trip. We assume conservatively that 15% of affected trips will be taken at a later time. An analysis of increases in ferry and rail tunnel demand indicates that approximately 37% of affected UK-Europe passengers took to these alternative modes of travel. Figure 3-1: Transport Spending Impact mn 0 Gross impact Deferred Travel Other Transport Net Impact Source : Oxford Economics Out of a total potential transportation sector loss of 375 million, 85% ( 321 million) will be fully realised by the aviation sector. However, only 69% ( 258 million) of the potential loss will be experienced by the transportation sector more broadly due to alternative modes of travel. 6

8 4 Destination Impacts 4.3 Potential Impacts Additional economic impacts have been experienced at the destination level in the form of foregone spending on hotels, restaurants, taxis, shopping, and entertainment. Based on the total number of UK inbound and domestic travellers who were unable to embark on their trips during the airspace shutdown, the UK tourism economy would have forfeited 365 million in visitor spending at UK destinations. Potential UK Destination Impacts Passengers affected Average UK destination spend UK Hotel losses Other visitor spending Total visitor spending loss Total 1,979, ,290, ,326, ,616,955 UK Inbound 547, ,815, ,561, ,377,103 Europe 430, ,638,889 76,996, ,635,489 N America 64, ,455,937 22,367,698 45,823,634 Rest world 52, ,720,711 22,197,269 49,917,980 UK Outbound 1,141, Europe 890, N America 98, Rest World 151, UK Domestic 290, ,474,538 30,765,314 91,239,853 The majority (75%) of the potential loss can be sourced to international inbound visitors who were deterred from travelling to the UK. 7

9 4.4 Net Destination Impacts A number of factors offset the magnitude of impacts at the destination level. Stranded passengers around the UK spent additional monies in hotels and restaurants. This is the largest of the destination offsets. Some inbound and domestic travellers found alternative means of transportation. In addition, some leisure travellers changed their plans to nearer destinations. However, these expenditures are on average well below those of travellers on planned itineraries. The net visitor spending impact for UK destinations is estimated at 166 million in lost revenues, primarily to hospitality sectors. This is 45% of the potential destination impact. Figure 4-1: Destination Visitor Spending Impact mn Gross impact Deferred Travel Domestic Substitution Stranded Spend Net Impact Source : Oxford Economics 8

10 5 Summary of Full Impacts All told the airspace shutdown cost the UK tourism economy significant losses, which were primarily borne by the transportation and hospitality sectors. Out of a potential total direct sales loss of 741 million, 425 million (57%) was realised by UK businesses. This represents 0.5% of total tourism-driven sales which are estimated to tally 91.9 billion in The table below summarises these losses. Summary of Net Impacts Deferred travel Domestic Substitution Other Transport Stranded Spend Gross Impact Net Impact Total Transportation UK airlines lost revenue Airports lost revenue Destination Hotels Other Figure 5-1: Total Direct Business Sales Impacts mn 0 Gross impact Deferred Travel Domestic Substitution Other Transport Stranded Spend Net Impact Source : Oxford Economics 9

11 Beyond these direct sales effects, other sectors were damaged indirectly as suppliers to the transport and hospitality sector experienced indirect losses. Further, UK economic output was broadly reduced as lost employee income translates into lower downstream consumer and business spending. The net impact on UK GDP is estimated to be 466 million when including these indirect and induced impacts. This represents 0.4% of tourism-generated GDP which is estimated to tally billion in The related impact on full time equivalent employment would be 10,231 jobs. These are not actual jobs losses but do represent the relationship between lost GDP and the number of persons this sum would support. In reality, companies largely absorbed the impact as losses to profits and reductions in operating costs without necessitating significant job losses. However, the 10,231 jobs impact does provide a sense of scale to the impacts, i.e. the losses were enough to have employed, on average, this many people for a full year. Net GDP and Employment Impacts GDP (millions) Employment* Direct ,636 Indirect ,036 Induced ,559 Total ,231 * Full time equivalents based on GDP per employee averages. 10

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