In the last quarter of 2017, the UK’s airports handled almost 65 million passengers and 541,000 commercial flights, while shipping over 763,000 tonnes of cargo (according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)).
So anyone with an eye for business should understand that these figures can convert to brilliant business opportunities.
But entering this competitive arena is challenging — so an overview of the commercial potential of each hub should help you develop a viable plan.
Heathrow is the UK’s busiest airport by far, carrying almost 76 million terminal passengers annually to domestic and global destinations from Aberdeen to Abu Dhabi and Tenerife to Toronto.
With over 200,000 departing passengers each day, there’s a captive audience for any capable business.
Business opportunity: in 2017, airport management confirmed each passenger spent an average of £8.50 in retail outlets, so investing in a boutique might help you capitalise on this disposable cash.
With over 43 million passengers, London’s Gatwick Airport comes second on our list by a considerable margin — but still offers rich pickings for anyone with an entrepreneurial eye.
According to KAYAK.co.uk, long and short-haul flights to the same destinations tend to be cheaper from Gatwick than Heathrow, meaning there might be more spare cash for travellers to spend.
Business Opportunity: with regular flights from Gatwick to Kingston and Montego Bay, launching a Caribbean cuisine restaurant and takeaway might bring a great ROI.
Manchester proudly represents the north of England in our number three slot, with over 26 million passengers each year.
As well as flying to a host of international locations, it’s a thriving sports and cultural centre that attracts many inbound travellers.
Business opportunity: the city has produced iconic bands like The Smiths and The Stone Roses — promoting organised tours for music fans might have you humming a profitable tune.
Stanstead is London’s third-busiest airport, serving over 24 million holidaymakers and business travellers each year.
Carriers focus on a huge range of destinations across Europe, making it a favourite departure point for summer holidays and city breaks.
Business opportunity: organising family holidays can be nerve-wracking, so opening a pamper parlour for parents with a creche for kids could boost your business bank account.
Luton’s 15 million annual passengers make it the least busy of the south-east airports in our list.
But there’s still a couple of pounds in the pocket of each passenger that the right business can capture.
This busy airport is another holidaymaker’s favourite — with rapid direct flights to popular destinations like Budapest, Rome and Nice.
Business opportunity: short-haul passengers often travel in their own vehicles, so introducing more airport parking options in Luton wouldn’t go amiss.
If you want to operate a successful business in the hustle and bustle of Britain’s five busiest airports, these startup suggestions might help you soar to success.
What’s your favourite British airport business? Share your thoughts in the comments section.