Thursday, June 30, 2016

Another Delayed Heathrow Decision Offends Air Freight and Logistics Community

More Dallying as Expected from a Government in Transition
Shipping News Feature
UK – Following up on our story earlier this week on the future of the airport expansion in the South East, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced yet again a delay the decision until ‘at least October’. Freight industry associations in the UK have pleaded with the government over the past year asking for a formal decision and to choose either London Heathrow or Gatwick for expansion, and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has warned that this deferment ‘is bad news for the economy and will further erode confidence in Britain’s ability to compete in global markets’.

McLoughlin confirmed to the House that an announcement would not be made until a new Conservative leader had been elected, further delaying the long-awaited decision on a new runway at either Heathrow or Gatwick and this further procrastination on an issue stretching back over a decade has not gone down well with the logistics community.

The Davies Commission concluded in July 2015 that Heathrow was the best option because of the economic benefits for the whole country, which included £147 billion in economic growth over the next 60 years and the creation of 70,000 new jobs by 2050. The York Aviation report commissioned by the FTA confirmed Heathrow as a vital hub for air cargo, offering 191 destinations and moving 1.5 million tonnes of freight annually. Speaking of his displeasure at yet another delay, Chris Welsh, FTA’s Director of Global & European Policy, said:

“This is at least the third time a decision has been put off since the Davis Commission report was published last year. Increased airport capacity in the South East has become a political football and the situation must not be allowed to continue. Britain needs connections with the world now it has walked away from the EU.

“The Government needs to get on with its job and protect British industry, exporters and importers are crying out for leadership on this issue. The Davies Commission gave a clear recommendation for expansion at Heathrow and this was borne out by the FTA’s own study, now we need to get on with it.”

The FTA’s York Aviation report said Heathrow is currently operating at 98% capacity and needs to expand to meet demand. Air freight accounts for nearly 40% of UK imports and exports by value and 95% of air cargo is carried in the belly-hold of passenger aircraft. The air freight industry employs 39,000 people, mostly clustered around Heathrow, the UK's main airport hub which more air freight passing through than all other British airports combined.