The Transport Committee’s call for Government to stop putting off the “difficult” decision to expand Heathrow Airport, echoes requests made by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) exactly twelve months ago.
Chairwoman of the committee – Labour MP Louise Ellman, said: “The Government must make up its mind. The decision on location is not the end of the process, it is the start of one.”
The FTA has consistently maintained the importance of air cargo to the UK economy, and has repeatedly asked Government to act as a matter of urgency.
In May 2015, the Association renewed its call on Government to look at increased airport capacity saying that a decision was needed sooner rather than later.
At the same time, FTA Chief Executive David Wells wrote to David Cameron highlighting the essential role of air freight; 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, mostly clustered around Heathrow – the UK’s main airport hub.
Chris Welsh, FTA’s Director – Global and European Policy, said: “FTA has been asking for a decision on additional airport capacity for a long time now. It is frustrating that we are still no further forward. This time last year we outlined the urgent need, but twelve months on no decision has yet been made.
“Airport expansion and increased air cargo capacity is vital to the UK economy to help ensure that it remains competitive in the global air freight market.”
Previously FTA has stated that the significance of air freight is overlooked, which was outlined in its ‘Sky-high value – The importance of air freight to the UK economy’ report which was launched in March 2014.
The long-awaited final report from the Davies Commission concluded in July 2015, and outlined 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 on 70,000 new jobs by 2050.
Mr Welsh added: “Additional capacity at Heathrow is critical to allow importers and exporters to access new and emerging markets in Asia, South America and the Indian sub-continent. FTA urges the Government to take on board these recommendations and act quickly. Heathrow is critical for important sectors such as pharmaceuticals, high-end manufacturing and retailers.”
FTA will meet with its Air Freight Working Group in London today to discuss the matter further.
In December, the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed that the Airport Commission’s shortlisted options – new runways at Heathrow or Gatwick, or extension of an existing runway at Heathrow – were “viable.”