Heathrow pressures Schiphol

LONDON Heathrow Airport (UK) saw a 14.2 per cent surge in freight traffic during December 2011, a record for the month and the first increase since February 2011.

Europe’s fourth largest airfreight hub handled 124,371 metric tonnes during the month, taking the full year total to 1.485 million tonnes, an increase of 0.8 per cent on 2010.

The hub is fast closing in on third place Amsterdam Schiphol (the Netherlands), which reported cargo was “virtually unchanged” in 2011 at 1.5 million tonnes.

Heathrow’s promising December is a contrast to the year before when severe winter conditions disrupted thousands of flights.

The UK government’s ban on an additional runway at Heathrow is damaging its ability to compete with larger European airports. Paris (France) and Frankfurt (Germany), which saw freight fall 6.5 per cent in December, already have 1,000 more flights each year to China’s three largest cities than London does, BAA said.

“Heathrow is central to developing [the UK’s] trade links with fast growing emerging markets. Capacity constraints are damaging the UK economy today when the country can least afford it,” BAA chief executive Colin Matthews (pictured) comments.

A proposed new airport in the south-east of the UK has a projected cost of US$77 billion and could take decades to build. “During that time we could be handing over on a plate the UK’s traditional trade advantages to our European competitors.”

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