Heathrow is already the UK’s biggest port for goods by value, mainly because four of five longhaul flights to and from the UK use it, as most freight is in the belly of passenger aircraft.
However, faster and more efficient cargo movements are vital in improving the UK’s export competiveness and maximising the economic benefits of these connections and any new ones that might be ade in the future.
The Airport say the plans to grow volumes were developed collaboratively with the industry. They were announced by CEO John Holland-Kaye at the BCC conference, as part of a 15 year vision to invest around £180million in improving cargo facilities, processes and people.
The blueprint includes proposals for a specialist pharmaceutical storage area – to support airlines to move highly valuable and temperature sensitive medicines – as well as better infrastructure to reduce congestion and smoother processes, all enabling freight to flow better through the airport and halving process time from 8-9 hours, to four hours.
In addition, the Airport plans an air to air transit facility located on the airfield which will enable smoother handling of transit cargo that arrives by air and is due to fly out by air. This will shorten connection times from a current average of 6+ hours.
Heathrow intends to be 100% ‘e-freight ready – working with businesses, airlines, IATA, HMRC and the DfT to fully implement e-Freight at Heathrow. This reduces the need for lengthy paper work and will be one of the first airports to become 100% digital.
A new truck parking facility will cater for over 100 vehicles and offer secure parking, access control, toilets/showers and dining facilities.
Heathrow has developed its vision to overhaul the cargo facilities after working closely with stakeholders including freight forwarders, Government, exporters and British businesses, forming an ambition to become one of the leading European airports for cargo.
These improvements will also encourage airlines to bring cargo friendly aircraft with greater freight capacity to Heathrow, which, say the Airport, are typically more modern, greener and quieter.
Chris Welsh – FTA Director of Global and European Policy said: “Heathrow’s planned investment and increased freight capacity is excellent news, and exactly the type of commitment that FTA has long been asking for. The significance of air freight is often overlooked, but today’s announcement illustrates that Heathrow Airport has listened very carefully to ourselves and the freight industry. The improvements it is proposing are essential to the growth and success of the UK economy.”
Addressing the BCC conference, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Cargo is essential for UK PLC and Heathrow is its global freight connector, with 26% of all UK goods by value going through the airport. This investment plan will significantly improve our cargo facilities and support British businesses to keep the economy moving, connecting exporters to the world and helping the government reach its £1 trillion export target by 2020.”