Freight Transport Association (FTA) has given its support for runway expansion at Heathrow Airport in an open letter to the UK’s prime minister (PM) David Cameron.
In the letter sent on 2 June, the FTA explains to the PM the importance of airfreight not being overlooked when options are considered for creating new airport capacity in South East England. He also outlines how vital it is for the UK to have a global hub airport.
The UK government’s Airports Commission will give a recommendation later this year on where airport capacity should be expanded. The options are to build a third runway or extend a runway at Heathrow or construct a second runway at Gatwick Airport.
FTA chief executive, David Wells, says in the letter that airfreight represents over 40 per cent of UK imports and exports by value, and plays a “crucial” role in the supply chains of many UK businesses. “FTA is concerned that the importance of airfreight is being overlooked. It is a common misconception that air cargo is a minor traffic used only for very high value or urgent items. In actual fact, 80 per cent of freight is carried in the holds of scheduled passenger aircraft using Heathrow Airport,” Wells says.
The FTA’s Sky High Value report published last year, claims Heathrow is a critical hub for air cargo as it serves 191 destinations, moves 1.5 million tonnes of freight and is vital for UK connectivity to its main overseas markets.
The association says Heathrow is operating at 98 per cent capacity and needs to be expanded to meet the needs of industry. “On behalf of FTA’s members I have written to the prime minister telling him that the decline of Heathrow as a viable global cargo hub will increase the costs of freight and logistics across the UK. Gatwick does not possess the infrastructure to handle the volumes of cargo required,” Wells adds.