Heathrow Airport has welcomed the Freight Transport Association submission to the Airports Commission, which recognised Heathrow’s position as the most significant airport for freight in the UK and a strategically vital national asset.
In its submission ‘Aviation Connectivity and the Economy’, the FTA argued that Heathrow should be permitted to expand its operations through additional runway capacity, in order to meet existing and future demand from passengers and international trade. It argued that while Heathrow competes as a mixed – use hub with its continental competitors in Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Madrid, a lack of available slots at the airport is reducing the range of destinations served.
The report says air freight is crucial to the economy and that for the UK to maintain its place as a global centre for business, allowing critical imports and exports freight to be delivered in time.
According to the Government’s Aviation Policy Framework, £116bn worth of goods was shipped by air freight between UK and non-EU countries in 2011, 35 percent of the UK’s extra-EU trade by value. Freight going through Heathrow alone is worth £35 billion a year and the airport is the UK’s most important freight port by value – bigger than any other airport.
Commenting on the submission, Colin Matthews, CEO for Heathrow, said, “The competitive advantage we have built up over centuries will end this decade as Heathrow is overtaken by Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt or Dubai as the busiest airport for international routes. Unless we take action, Heathrow’s comparative decline will make the whole of the UK a less attractive place to trade with as we fail to offer the range of destinations businesses need.”