Cargo getting ‘cold-shoulder’ in UK airport debate

Addressing the first air freight seminar within the 2014 Multimodal exhibition and conference, Chris Welsh, director of global and European policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said the government-appointed Airports Commission was considering the UK’s urgent lack of airport capacity only from a passenger perspective.


Cargo getting ‘cold-shoulder’ in UK airport debate


Addressing the first air freight seminar within the 2014 Multimodal exhibition and conference, Chris Welsh, director of global and European policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said the government-appointed Airports Commission was considering the UK’s urgent lack of airport capacity only from a passenger perspective.

Although almost 40 per cent of UK imports and exports were transported by air, cargo’s interests were getting “swamped” in what was turning into a highly politicised debate, Welsh said. Few companies were prepared to step forward to comment on the issue, fearing they would be branded anti-environment, he added.

In its report to the Howard Daviesled Airports Commission, the FTA emphasised London Heathrow’s crucial hub role for air cargo – “a fact not recognised by Davies”, Welsh said. “Heathrow needs major investment or, if a new airport is to be built, it should be something comparable,” Welsh continued. “It’s not an option to disperse [cargo] all round the country, although we don’t have a problem with regional airports growing.”

Heathrow has almost 200 scheduled services with more than 95 per cent of cargo moving through the airport in the bellies of passenger aircraft, Welsh highlighted. “Few outside the industry understand this close correlation,” Welsh said, adding that the airport’s capacity was nearing saturation point, which was a concern to customers in the life sciences industry, the express sector and movers of aircraft spare parts, among many others.