June 02, 2015: The Freight Transport Association has told David Cameron that the importance of air freight should not be overlooked when considering the options for creating new airport capacity in south east England, and outlined the importance of a UK global hub airport.
In a letter to the Prime Minister – sent today (2 June), FTA's Chief Executive – David Wells, outlined the essential work of air freight which represents over 40% of UK imports and exports by value, and plays a crucial role in the supply chains of many UK businesses.
Mr Wells said: "FTA is concerned that the importance of air freight 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."
FTA's 'Sky-High Value' report illustrates that Heathrow is a critical hub for air cargo; it offers 191 destinations, moves 1.5 million tonnes of freight and is vital for UK connectivity to its main overseas markets. Heathrow is currently operating at 98% capacity and needs to be able to expand to meet the needs of industry.
David Wells added: "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."
A final recommendation on where expansion should take place is scheduled to be issued later this year by the Airports Commission - led by Sir Howard Davies. The options include a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, or a second runway at Gatwick.
Mr Wells also stated that the Government decision should not be based solely on passenger considerations.
Wells concluded: "We accept the factors driving demand for new airport capacity and the forecast growth in passengers wishing to travel. However, passengers are not the sole users of these flights nor the only beneficiaries of the wider choice of routes. Whereas passengers could be persuaded to use a different airport, the diminution of Heathrow as an international air cargo hub favours neither the country nor the economy."