The announcement that Heathrow is planning to double the volume of air freight cargo has been described as brilliant news for industry and the UK economy by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) today.
Reacting to the announcement of the Airport’s blueprint plans outlining a £180m investment into revolutionising its cargo facilities, processes and people, FTA has said that Heathrow’s proposals recognise the vital importance that air freight plays to UK plc.
Previously FTA stated that air cargo and the essential role it plays is often overlooked, and in particular highlighted the importance of transporting pharmaceutical, high-end manufactured good and other products reliant of air freight to reach vital overseas markets (as outlined in its Sky High Value – the importance of air freight to the UK economy document).
Chris Welsh – FTA Director of Global and European Policy said:
“Heathrow’s planned investment and increased freight capacity is 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.”
The proposals outlined by Heathrow today include a specialist pharmaceutical storage area – to support airlines moving highly valuable and temperature sensitive medicines and other goods. The improved infrastructure is said to reduce congestion and provide smoother processes, enabling freight to flow better through the airport and halving the process time from 8-9 hours, to four hours.
Mr Welsh added:
“Time sensitive goods such as medicines rely on air freight transportation and can’t realistically travel any other way. There has long been insufficient controlled temperature arrangements to move pharmaceuticals – the proposed improvements to provide this and to accelerate implementation of e-freight is essential in halving door-to-door air cargo movements. These are vital steps to enhance the competitiveness of UK exports and to make Heathrow a world-class air cargo hub.”
95% of air cargo is carried in the belly-hold of passenger aircraft; air freight accounts for nearly 40% of UK imports and exports by value and employs 39,000 people, most clustered around Heathrow – the UK’s main airport hub. It is critical for important sectors such as pharmaceuticals, high-end manufacturing and retailers.