FTA backs Heathrow in letter to Cameron

The UK’s Freight Transport Association (FTA) has told British Prime Minister David Cameron that the decline of London-Heathrow airport as a viable global cargo hub will increase the costs of freight and logistics across the UK. 
In a letter to 10 Downing Street, the shipper association’s chief executive, David Wells, says that UK rival Gatwick airport “does not possess the infrastructure to handle the volumes of cargo required”.
The FTA, which supports the expansion of runway capacity at Heathrow, says that the importance of airfreight “should not be overlooked” when considering the options for creating new airport capacity in south east England.
The call comes as the industry awaits the publication of a report by the Airports Commission – led by Sir Howard Davies – on the UK’s future airport capacity plans.
The options include a third runway at Heathrow, lengthening an existing runway at Heathrow, or a second runway at Gatwick to the south east of London.
In his letter, Wells outlined the essential work of airfreight which represents over 40% of UK imports and exports by value, and which plays “a crucial role” in the supply chains of many UK businesses.
Wells said: “FTA is concerned that the importance of airfreight is being overlooked.  It is a common misconception that air cargo is a minor traffic used only for very high value or urgent items.  In actual fact, 80% of freight is carried in the holds of scheduled passenger aircraft using Heathrow airport.”
FTA’s Sky-High Value report illustrated that Heathrow is a critical hub for air cargo: “It offers 191 destinations, moves 1.5m tonnes of freight and is vital for UK connectivity to its main overseas markets. 
“Heathrow is currently operating at 98% capacity and needs to be able to expand to meet the needs of industry.”
Wells also stated that the government decision should not be based solely on passenger considerations.
Wells concluded: “We accept the factors driving demand for new airport capacity and the forecast growth in passengers wishing to travel. However, passengers are not the sole users of these flights nor the only beneficiaries of the wider choice of routes. 
“Whereas passengers could be persuaded to use a different airport, the diminution of Heathrow as an international air cargo hub favours neither the country nor the economy.” 

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