Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye called for a quick decision on the airport’s third runway as the London gateway revealed a jump in cargo in June.
Tonnage grew 2.1% year on year to 125,536 tonnes with China up 11%, India 3.3% and Turkey 3%. The moving annual total to June 2016, at 1,509,408 tonnes, was down slightly, by 0.3%.
June’s cargo growth came despite weather problems and French industrial action, which dented growth in passenger traffic, down 1% over June 2015, the airport authority said.
Holland-Kaye’s plea followed a letter signed by 30 regional councils from around the UK which also urged transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to back Heathrow expansion. It was signed by councils close to Heathrow including Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, but also by others in Scotland and South Wales.
The airport added that a new poll also showed that two thirds of members of parliament also wanted the third runway.
The Airports Commission called for a Heathrow third runway in its report published in July 2015, only for the government to announce in December a further investigation into the noise and environmental effects, with a final decision in summer 2016. However, this has now been put off again until at least October in the wake of the country’s political chaos following the vote to leave the European Union.
Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that he will resign in September this year and a ballot is currently taking place for a new leader of the Conservative party and prime minister.
However, airport officials see a decision on a third runway as a vote of confidence in the UK as a trading nation.
Holland-Kaye said: “With cargo volumes at Heathrow growing, our next Prime Minister has a real opportunity to secure Britain’s legacy as an outward-looking trading nation. Now more than ever, a decision on Heathrow expansion must be at the top of her in-tray.”
He said that the new runway would double cargo capacity at Heathrow, boosting overseas trade at a time of uncertainty, while the £16bn investment would create jobs and growth across the UK.
He added that Parliamentary endorsement of a third runway would “send the strongest possible signal that Brexit Britain is open for business and confident in its future.”
London’s second gateway, Gatwick Airport, meanwhile reported a surge in its relatively modest cargo figures in June. Cargo for the month, at 6,494 tonnes, was up 61.2% on the June 2015 figure. However, the moving annual total to June 2016 – 72,082 tonnes – was down 12.6% on the previous 12-month period.
New developments at Gatwick included new WestJet flights to Canada, the arrival of Tianjin Airlines and, shortly, new Cathay Pacific flights to Hong Kong, and a British Airways service to Cape Town in the autumn.
The airport’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate said: “June’s results show the benefits a two runway Gatwick would provide for Britain – guaranteed growth with reduced environmental impacts and no taxpayer funding.”