Heathrow Airport has announced an ambitious plan to support local economic recovery after Covid-19.

The announcement comes as new research from Oxford Economics reveals that there could be 16,000 fewer jobs in the communities around Heathrow by 2021. 

Working with key local stakeholders, the ‘Heathrow Local Recovery Plan’ lays the groundwork for the recovery of Heathrow’s local economies, including Hillingdon. 

Heathrow CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said: “This initiative sets out the commitments we are making to ensure we protect the future security of the economies and communities who rely on Heathrow.

“As we work through this crisis, I believe it is more important than ever for Heathrow and our partners to work collaboratively, to ensure that as we rebuild, we provide a pathway that allows Heathrow and its communities to build back better.”

Chair of the Heathrow Local Recovery Forum, Lord David Blunkett, added: “The future of local livelihoods and economies is of paramount importance to Heathrow, with hundreds of local businesses relying on the airport to export their goods and services. 

“This is about real people, the wellbeing of individuals and families as well as retaining the business and economic capacity to make recovery a reality.”

The blueprints have been developed alongside local councils, enterprise partnerships and chambers of commerce, with a new Heathrow Local Recovery Forum chaired by Lord Blunkett to implement recommendations.

Amongst one of the plan’s recommendations, Heathrow has created a dedicated Heathrow JobCentre Plus Service to support colleagues across Team Heathrow and the local community to access job search support and careers, information, advice and guidance

The plan has also called on the Government to temporarily introduce flexibility into how the Apprenticeship Levy can be used, and to provide support through reskilling and retraining opportunities to help those seeking employment. 

The launch of the new recovery plan comes amidst a dramatic decline in the volume of passengers at Heathrow. 

The airport dealt with just 1.6 million passengers last month, down from 7.06 million in October 2019. 

Oxford Economics also projects the cost of Heathrow’s decline across West London’s economy to be £4 billion.

The study commissioned by six local authorities found Heathrow supported 133,600 jobs across the boroughs.

Hounslow, which is among the hardest hit by the fall, announced the launch of a national summit to help explore the plight of communities which risk being devastated by the downturn in aviation. 

The summit is expected to result in the formation of an Aviation Communities Task Force to call on the Government to create an Aviation Communities Fund. 

Council Leader Cllr Steve Curran said: “Hounslow is not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people in communities reliant on the aviation industry are facing widespread unemployment, deprivation and barriers to securing future work. 

“The Government must recognise the devastating plight of aviation communities. They must be treated differently with a place-based approach. 

“We need an Aviation Communities Fund for targeted investment in training, reskilling, low carbon jobs and local infrastructure which would support wider recovery to enable Britain to build back better and greener."