The interim report by the Airports Commission on airport capacity in the UK, published today (17 December), confirms that there is a need for new airport capacity in the south east and puts the issue firmly back on the agenda, the Freight Transport Association has said.
The three shortlisted options include a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, and a new runway at Gatwick.
Chris Welsh, FTA’s General Manager – Global and European Policy said:
"We welcome the report’s confirmation that there is a need for additional runway capacity in the south east, something FTA has long called for. This additional runway capacity is urgently needed to enhance the global air cargo hub status of Heathrow. Maintaining a global hub located in the UK is vital to the economy and our international competitiveness is likely to be impaired unless current airport capacity is expanded to cater for growth in international trade."
Heathrow is the most significant airport in the UK for freight – in fact it carries more freight each year than all other UK airports put together. It competes as a mixed use hub with the major continental alternatives – Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Madrid – but the lack of availability of slots at Heathrow is reducing the UK’s connectivity and limiting the range of destinations served, particularly to emerging markets in South America, Asia and the Indian sub-continent.
As London’s main hub airport, Heathrow will continue to play a major role and FTA says it should be permitted to expand its existing operations, specifically through additional runway capacity, in order to meet existing and future demand from passengers and international trade.