Government figures analysed in a report released today underline the importance of aviation to the UK’s economy.

The Aviation Foundation has crunched official statistics which make it clear that air links are crucial to businesses across the country.

Aviation directly employs 220,000 people, but thousands of enterprises, from multi-nationals to small firms and even husband and wife B&Bs also depend on it.

The analysis shows goods worth £60 billion were exported by air last year and some 3.7 million people are employed by non-UK owned companies dependent on good air links for location and trade.

“Local businesses across the UK desperately need world-class air links,” said Robert Gray, executive director of the Aviation Foundation.

“Britain has been a proud pioneer but we are in danger of taking this for granted and falling behind our better-connected competitors.”

The Aviation Foundation wants more politicians to get behind the industry, and to bring the issue further to life it has launched the Great British Flying Test campaign.

The test is designed to highlight the importance of aviation to every community. It includes a film made in Carlisle in Cumbria, the town furthest from a major international airport. Even here the need and importance of aviation is clear.

“We want to see a greater number of politicians championing aviation,” said Gray. “Our campaign will be showing them how many of their constituents’ jobs depend on aviation, and we look forward to discussing the results with them in the run up to the next election.”

The Aviation Foundation promotes the economic and social benefits of aviation in the UK and has been set up by British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Heathrow and Manchester Airport Group.

You can see the impact aviation has on Carlisle – the town furthest from the airport at