The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says it hopes the response by Heathrow to recommendations by the Airports Commission will bring the construction of a third runway a step closer.
Heathrow has responded with a promise to exceed the conditions and put in place a Skills Taskforce with 10,000 apprenticeships for local young people. FTA says air freight is vital to the UK economy and increased capacity is needed as soon as possible to support growth.
FTA’s new Air Freight Working Group discussed the issue when it met earlier this month, and airport capacity was on the agenda at today’s ‘Future of Airports in the UK’ seminar hosted by FTA at MultiModal 2016 in Birmingham.
Nick Platts, Head of Cargo at Heathrow Airport, told a packed room that air freight had been pushed to the back of the queue for too long and its vital role role was all too often overlooked. He said its importance to the UK economy should be recognised and added that Heathrow was committed to creating a quieter, cleaner airport equipped to serve as a world class air freight hub for years to come.
Mr Platts said: “As an industry we need to collaborate more and engage with others regarding strategic issues so that the UK benefits and we can grow our exports. Heathrow recognises that we have a key role to play, and is looking for partners to transform cargo at the airport.
“We are looking forward to working with the FTA and its Air Freight Working Group on areas of common interest.”
In July 2015, the Airports Commission identified a northwest runway at Heathrow as the best option for airport expansion in the south east but set 11 conditions on environmental and community impacts.
Chris Welsh, FTA’s Director of Global and European Policy, said: “Air freight accounts for almost 40 per cent of UK imports and exports by value and employs 39,000 people in and around Heathrow so it’s crucial that a decision is not delayed further. Hopefully this announcement today will move things on after a long and frustrating wait.”