March 20, 2023

Focus on... USA

The number one business travel destination with the world’s largest economy, the USA’s traditionally close relationship with the UK is ever more critical as we depart the EU trade bloc, fuelling more British business travel to the region than ever before, says Sasha Wood.

Natural trading partners, the USA and the UK have historically been firm economic friends. Today we have $1.2trillion tied up in each other’s economies, and the USA is the UK’s largest export market for goods and services, accounting for 18.9% of total exports in the year ending March 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

While the UK is dwarfed by the USA’s juggernaut economy – the world’s largest – it’s nevertheless the USA’s fourth largest export market, accounting for more trade than any other European nation by a wide margin. Goods traded trans-Atlantic include electronics and food and drink. UK products are in demand in the USA and have a strong reputation for quality. Emerging categories include English sparkling wines, cheese, and gin, and UK services are also highly valued, with £65.2billion worth of services exported to the States between 2018 and 2019

Crucially, Britain is the USA’s largest international investor, representing 18% of foreign direct investment, more than Japan and Canada, and significantly more than the fastgrowing economies of India and China

In fact, UK businesses support more than a million jobs across the Atlantic, including almost a quarter in manufacturing, a sector where the UK is the single biggest investor at $232billion, says the CBI. British companies create jobs in every State too, with the lion’s share in Texas, followed by New York and California. US firms support a similar chunk of workers in the UK.

The close relationship between the two nations is even more vital as the UK leaves the EU trading bloc, though there are signs that negotiating a fresh free trade agreement with the USA may take longer than first thought.

Addressing the anticipated shift, CBI’s International Director, Ben Digby, is optimistic: “It is a source of great pride and credit to the UK and the USA that our two nations have the largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world. “Trade is not all about free trade agreements – there is so much we can do now to improve it. The first priority is protecting what we’ve already got by ensuring continuity in trade when the UK leaves the EU. Westminster and Washington must then focus on things that can be done now, such as mutual recognition of professional qualifications, greater regulatory collaboration and making the case for free trade together on the international stage… these are low hanging fruits.”

Among the region’s key cities for international business, everyone wants a bite of the Big Apple. Globally New York is the biggest business travel destination according to data from Big Four TMC Egencia. British Airways’ On Business program for SMEs shows the number of business travellers flying between London Gatwick and New York’s JFK airport rose by 10% in 2018 on what is traditionally a leisure route. What’s more, nearly $5.5billion worth of goods were shipped to the UK from New York.

While finance is obviously the mainstay of New York’s Wall Streetbased businesses, and it’s East Coast counterpart Boston thrives on high technology, down south it’s black gold that’s king. Houston no longer produces so much as co-ordinates the industry, acting as a chief technical centre employing hundreds of thousands of highly-skilled engineers. Its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico also makes the area critical for trade.

The famously forward-thinking City by the Bay, San Francisco has become a major international tech hub and also features in Egencia’s top 25 business destinations, along with Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles.

There’s a clear mutual dependency between the Americans and the British that’s only set to be cemented further post-Brexit. So it’s little wonder the USA remains the UK’s single biggest business travel destination.


Air New Zealand:
Flies Heathrow to Los Angeles (ends Oct 2020).

American Airlines:
Flies from Heathrow to Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Raleigh Durham, New York and, from March 2020, Boston. Also flies to Philadelphia from Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh,

British Airways:
Serves the following US cities: Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Tampa and Washington.

Delta Air Lines:
Flies from Heathrow to Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Portland (summer) and Salt Lake City; from Edinburgh to New York and Boston (summer); and Glasgow to New York (summer).

Flies Gatwick to Boston, LA, Miami, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Tampa.

Singapore Airlines:
Flies from Manchester to Houston.

Flies Heathrow to New York, Chicago, Washington-Dulles, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco; from Manchester and Edinburgh to New York; and seasonally from Edinburgh to Chicago and Washington, and from Glasgow to New York.

Virgin Atlantic:
Flies from Heathrow to Atlanta, Boston, LA, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, San Francisco and Seattle; from Manchester to Atlanta, Boston, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando and LA; and to Orlando from Gatwick, Glasgow and Belfast.

Information correct at time of publication: December 2019