A £180m investment at Heathrow Airport will double cargo space, providing faster and more efficient export processes. The 15-year project, which was developed by major stakeholders, aims to encourage airlines to boost freight capacity and half process time.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye told delegates at the British Chambers of Commerce Conference, that the aim is to cut freight process time from eight or nine hours to four, and advance the UK’s competitiveness in the global export market.
Nick Platts, Head of Cargo at Heathrow said: “The cargo blueprint is a result of consultation with a number of stakeholder including SEGRO, freight forwarders, BIFA and Government. Reducing throughput times will benefit all our stakeholders as taking cargo through Heathrow will become timely and predictable.”
FTA director Chris Welsh said: “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.”
Heathrow boasts four out of five of all long haul flights.
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.”
As well as improving process times and efficiency, the investment will fund a specialist pharmaceutical storage space designed for medicines sensitive to temperature. The proposal also includes plans to make Heathrow “100% e-freight ready,” which means the airport will be run completely digitally.
Freight companies operating at Heathrow will also take advantage of air-to air transit and a new truck parking facility.
September figures from The international Air Transport Association (IATA) showed that airfreight market growth was limited – with cargo capacity 1.2% lower than the end of year peak in 2014.
The plans aim to be delivered by 2030 and cargo volumes are forecast to continue growing to around 3m tonnes in 2040.