The decision to increase capacity at Heathrow Airport is “the right choice for the UK economy, the freight industry and the nation,” according to the UK-based Freight Transport Association (FTA).
The shipper organisation has mounted a detailed campaign highlighting the “vital importance of airfreight” to the UK economy and why a decision backing the Airports Commission’s recommendation for a third runway is “essential for UK importers and exporters who rely on the expansion of Heathrow”.
About 40% of UK imports and exports by value are dependent on airfreight and the wide range of services provided by Heathrow to access our overseas markets, said the FTA.
Chris Welsh, FTA Director of Global and European Policy, said: “This is excellent news for the freight and logistics industry and the country. This decision is even more vital in a post-Brexit world where Britain’s capability to expand its trade and ability to compete in markets outside Europe is heavily dependent on connectivity to emerging markets.”
Heathrow is an “essential hub of connectivity for passengers and freight,” bringing together huge resource, expertise and opportunity in one place, he said.
Welsh added: “Freight and passenger services have a strong synergy at Heathrow. It is the wide diversity of destinations and services which makes it such an attractive proposition for those shipping cargo. Airlines accepting freight in the belly hold of passenger planes can often make the difference between services being profitable or not.”
FTA has led the freight case for Heathrow and previously outlined the importance of the airport, saying that Heathrow must maintain its position as a world-class hub for UK imports and exports.
FTA’s report ‘Sky-high value – The importance of air freight to the UK economy’ played a key part in influencing the Airports Commission recommendation in favour of a third runway at Heathrow.
The shippers’ body argued that Heathrow Airport has the best connectivity to global markets of any in the UK, currently serving 185 destinations in 84 countries. Increased capacity will enable goods and passengers to be connected to scores of global destinations and support UK trade.
Welsh added: “Following the referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU), this decision is even more crucial to the UK’s position as a leading global trading nation.
“In line with the Prime Minister’s Conservative Party Conference speech in which she talked about the Government’s vision of ‘a truly global Britain’, we need to look to markets outside Europe, in particular to emerging markets in Asia, South America and the Indian subcontinent.
“Freight accounts for around 40% of the UK’s imports and exports by value, and high-end manufacturing industries such as pharmaceuticals, automotive manufacturing, mobile telephones and retail are dependent on Heathrow.”
Welsh concluded: “So much economic activity relies upon air freight across the UK – it is critical to economic recovery that the nation can demonstrate it is open for business with a smooth and reliable journey from our international gateways.”