A secret UK government plan to utilise the planned third runway at London Heathrow Airport exclusively for freight has been seen by Air Cargo Week.
The document bears the signature of Rick Platz, Heathrow Airport head of cargo.
Platz says: “I can confirm what Air Cargo Week has seen. This was supposed to be a state secret. I am consulting our lawyers. You will hear from me.”
Reactions to the news have been mixed. Freight industry professionals have welcomed the move to segregate maindeck and bellyhold cargo from passenger operations at Heathrow Airport while passenger managers were in dismay at what they feared would be a squeeze on passenger aircraft capacity at the gateway.
“I am not happy about how freight gets the sole use of this massive infrastructure project,” said an unnamed passenger airline spokesperson.
Local residents have reacted angrily to the plan to use the third runway exclusively for freight, claiming that this will ultimately lead to 24/7 flights at the airport.
Formal requests have been made to Chris Grayling, UK Secretary of State for transport, by airport authorities for the planned exclusive freight operations but sources confirm he is determined to make as much a success of the third runway as he did of the railway timetable changes in 2018 and the choice of a cross-Channel ferry company earlier this year.
Opponents of the scheme are determined to derail the plan, planning major protests at LHR’s cargo village and the picketing of Rick Platz’s office.
“Overwhelming opposition from locals can still overturn this madness,” said lead eco-opponent Leaf Mould.
Lawyers from leading London law firm Sue, Grabbit and Runne for Air Cargo Week has been appointed as editor James Graham is reported to have gone into hiding over the fall-out from the story. He is due to return by lunchtime today..