AZ leaders travel to London on inaugural American Airlines flight

A group of local business and community leaders traveled to London last week as part of the inaugural American Airlines nonstop flight between Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and London Heathrow Airport. The new flight opens up additional opportunities between Arizona and the United Kingdom, and the delegation promoted the benefits of Arizona to U.K.-based business leaders and companies.

The delegation included representatives from the City of Phoenix, American Airlines, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Squire Patton Boggs, Greater Phoenix Chamber, Arizona Lodging and Tourism, as well as Visit Phoenix. The message from the delegation? Bring your families, friends and companies to Arizona.

“The U.K. is already Arizona’s number two source of foreign direct investment, and this new direct flight will help grow an already-strong relationship,” Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer said. “Whether for business travel or leisure, this new American Airlines offering will expose even more travelers from around the globe to all Arizona has to offer.”

Currently in Arizona there are 204 businesses from the U.K. creating 16,980 jobs in the areas of aerospace, finance, health care, information technology, and manufacturing. The top three U.K.- owned companies in Arizona by employee count are PetSmart Inc., Holiday Inn, and Hilton.

According to officials from the City of Phoenix, in 2018 Arizona exported nearly $1 billion of its $22.4 billion in exports to the United Kingdom, which is Arizona’s fifth-largest trading partner. Transportation equipment, computers and electronic components and fabricated metal products were the top three 2018 exports.

“We have had strong connections for decades so it is easy for an Arizona firm to do business in the U.K., and for a U.K firm to do business in Phoenix. Our businesses have great similarities and benefit from working together. London is well-known as a world center for global finance, and Phoenix is the third largest financial service and technology workforce in the U.S. making us a natural fit,” Christine Mackay, Director, Phoenix Community and Economic Development said. “Now with two nonstop flights to London, we’ve been promoting the proximity and accessibility of the two nations and our workforces.”

There were 387 round-trip flights between Arizona and the U.K. in 2017. By offering daily flights from Phoenix to London, American Airlines is doubling this connection capacity.

The new flight is also boosting Arizona tourism promotion efforts in London. American Airlines is heavily promoting the route in London Heathrow airport with pictures of Arizona sunny skies and cacti. According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, there were more than 100,000 U.S. visitors to Arizona in 2017 staying an average of 7.5 nights in the Grand Canyon State.

“The fact that American Airlines has extended the direct London flight to year-round service, even before it made its maiden flight, says a lot about how Phoenix-to-London access makes it easy for companies to do business in Europe,” Mackay said. “Now international travelers have more options when it comes to Eurozone travel, including days and times. We’ve long promoted Phoenix as one-hop from the world, but that meant a one-stop to a U.S. international airport before going overseas. Now between American, British Airways and Condor, Phoenix travelers can get into a global gateway as the first hop on an international trip.”

Lorna Romero

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