The UK government has got itself into a mess over over aviation strategy. There is a huge need for new airport capacity in the London area – the problem is the impact on the densely-packed communities that would be affected.
And now a leading trade association has warned that that the significance of air freight is being overlooked.
The Freight Transport Association points out that 95 per cent of air cargo is carried in the belly-hold of passenger aircraft; air freight accounts for nearly 40 per cent of UK imports and exports by value and employs 39,000 people, most clustered around Heathrow – the UK’s main airport hub. It is critical for important sectors such as pharmaceuticals, high-end manufacturing and retailers.
It has just published a report “Sky-high value – The importance of air freight to the UK economy” which among other things highlights the need for additional capacity to meet existing needs but also to be able to access new emerging markets and economies in Asia, South America and the Indian sub-continent.
Chris Welsh, director – global and European policy said: “We support the case for investment in Heathrow and existing airports, including regional airports and in potential new airport sites.”
The government’s Airports Commission, lead by Sir Howard Davies, has produced an interim report that highlighted the need for one additional runway to be in operation in the south east of the UK by 2030.
The FTA report makes it clear that Heathrow is the critical hub for air cargo. It offers 191 destinations, moves 1.5 million tonnes of freight and is vital for UK connectivity to global markets. Heathrow is currently operating at 98 per cent capacity.
It’s the obvious place to put that additional runway.