Heathrow Airport is losing the battle for new routes to lucrative merging markets, a new report claims.
A shortage of direct flights from the UK’s flagship airport is persuading companies to use competing airports on the continent, Reuters news agency said.
The report by Frontier Economics said the loss of business was costing the struggling UK economy £1.2bn a year.
The report was commissioned by Spanish conglomerate Ferrovial which owns BAA, which, in turn, is the owner of Heathrow and five other British airports.
The report said that international hub airports like Heathrow were “crucial” to promoting a country’s economic growth.
It claimed that UK businesses did 20 times as much trade with countries where there was a direct connection than with countries where there was not .
Reuters quoted the report as saying: "Paris (Charles de Gaulle) and Frankfurt already boast 1,000 more annual flights to the three largest cities in China than Heathrow... there are 21 emerging market destinations with daily flights from other European hubs that are not served from Heathrow; including destinations such as Manila, Guangzhou, and Jakarta."
The report claimed that up to 45 new destinations could “viably” be added at Heathrow, including 15 in the emerging markets.
This would increase the airport’s share of the European transfer market from 16% to 21%.
The UK's Department for Transport last month said airports in the south-east of England would be full to capacity by 2030 and that all growth beyond 2040 would occur at regional airports.
Britain's Conservative-led coalition government blocked development of a third runway at Heathrow when it came to power last May and is currently undertaking a review of its aviation policy.
London's Mayor, Boris Johnson supports building a new airport in the Thames estuary instead of expanding Heathrow.
The government sees high-speed rail as the solution to relieving congestion at British airports - much of it caused by domestic flights - but analysts believe this solution is unlikely to be available for at least 20 years, Reuters reported.