Cargo omitted from Gatwick’s response

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An artist's impression of Gatwick Airport with two runways

Cargo is not mentioned in Gatwick Airport’s official initial response to the UK government’s Airports Commission’s recommendation that Heathrow Airport get a third runway and emphasising the importance of freight in its conclusion.

Published on Tuesday 14 July, the response’s 12 pages do not mention cargo or freight, yet at the Airports Commission’s 1 July recommendation announcement airfreight was outlined as an important factor.

On 15 July a hearing of the UK’s upper legislative chamber, the House of Lords, about the Airports Commission’s recommendation, heard about airfreight’s importance from the commission’s chair, Sir Howard Davies (see story below).

What Gatwick’s initial response, entitled, A second runway for Gatwick: Initial response to the Airports Commission’s recommendation report, does say is that the airport has concerns over some of the data, analysis and findings used by the commission for traffic, the economic case, market competition, noise and air quality.

Prior to the commission’s recommendation Gatwick had argued that it could handle up to 1.07 million tonnes per year by 2050 with a second runway. This growth is from more long haul services. Under Gatwick’s expansion plans it would add a 65,000 square metre cargo facility.

Gatwick does promise a future response that deals with freight. The airport tells Air Cargo Week (ACW): “Over the coming weeks we will continue to assess the Airports Commission’s documents further, and outline our views on broader parts of the report.” It adds that Gatwick’s expansion plans are about more competition among the UK’s airports and this includes cargo. “In our expansion plans we have made provision for ten times the amount of freight capacity that the airport handles today,” it says.

Gatwick continues to see falls in cargo volumes and in June it saw a 45.1 per cent drop in tonnage to 4,028 tonnes. In May, cargo volumes fell by 24.3 per cent year on year (YOY) to 5,652 tonnes. In April, volumes were down 11.2 per cent YOY from 7,577 tonnes to 6,727.