FTA urges swift Heathrow expansion Air Cargo News
The UK’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) has described an increase in airport capacity in the southeast of England “is vital if the UK is to retain its position as a global trading hub”. In its response to the Government’s Draft Airports National Policy Statement, Alex Veitch, the association’s head of global policy, said: “FTA has consistently supported the construction of a third runway at Heathrow, in preference to Gatwick, as our members believe it will deliver greater economic benefits to the whole of the UK from what is the key logistics hub for the entire country. Cargo is currently sent to and from Heathrow to 185 destinations in 84 countries – it is a vital link in the UK’s supply chain.
“Now that the Government has made a decision on its preferred option for expansion it is imperative that the decision-making process is concluded rapidly and that expansion work starts swiftly to protect the airport’s reputation as the UK leading airfreight gateway. Without it, Heathrow runs the risk of further losing ground to other European airports, including Paris Charles de Gaulle and Schipol, and could find it hard to attract business to London from other locations across Europe, post-Brexit.” Veitch noted that many of the cargoes arriving at Heathrow contain time-sensitive goods which support British industry and business directly.
The gateway is essential not only to ensuring the continued smooth flow of these goods but also to growth in trade with such markets as Asia, South America and the Indian sub-continent. New capacity for flights to those destinations would be provided by a new runway at Heathrow, according to the York Aviation Report, jointly commissioned by FTA and Transport for London (TfL) in 2015. As the UK looks to increase its trade with partners beyond Europe, air transport is of vital importance.
Indeed, Veitch pointed out, “the Government’s stated objective to increase UK exports to the rest of the world will only be achievable with increased capacity at Heathrow: the promised development needs to be undertaken as quickly as possible after the General Election. To renege on the agreed course of action would be tantamount to Geoffrey Howe’s famous Commons resignation speech as like being sent in to face fierce face hostile bowling with a broken bat! “With the airport already firmly established as a distribution hub for the nation’s logistics industry – with forwarders, specialist air cargo handlers and distribution centres clustered in close vicinity – as the FTA’s own Sky High Value report [into the value of extending Heathrow’s capacity] outlined, Heathrow is ideally placed to attract more international businesses to the UK, a vital step towards future prosperity in a post-Brexit world,” Veitch added.
A Parliamentary vote on the Heathrow proposal is to take place following the General Election in June.