Air freight should not be overlooked when considering the options for creating new airport capacity in south-east England, the Freight Transport Association has told prime minister David Cameron.
“FTA is concerned that the importance of air freight is being overlooked. It is a common misconception that air cargo is a minor traffic used only for very high value or urgent items. In actual fact, 80 per cent of freight is carried in the holds of scheduled passenger aircraft using Heathrow airport,” said CEO David Wells.
“On behalf of FTA’s members I have written to the prime minister telling him that the decline of Heathrow as a viable global cargo hub will increase the costs of freight and logistics across the UK. Gatwick does not possess the infrastructure to handle the volumes of cargo required.”
A final recommendation on where expansion should take place is scheduled to be issued later this year by the Airports Commission – led by Sir Howard Davies. The options include a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, or a second runway at Gatwick.
Wells said that the government decision should not be based solely on passenger considerations: “We accept the factors driving demand for new airport capacity and the forecast growth in passengers wishing to travel. However, passengers are not the sole users of these flights nor the only beneficiaries of the wider choice of routes. Whereas passengers could be persuaded to use a different airport, the diminution of Heathrow as an international air cargo hub favours neither the country nor the economy.”