The long awaited third runway at Heathrow has finally been approved however concerns are left across the UK freight industry.
Following the Brexit referendum, it has been argued that it is now more vital than ever for the UK to strengthen its competitive position in markets outside of Europe.
British International Freight Association (BIFA) director general, Robert Keen felt that it is long overdue good news for the industry which has been dismayed over the ongoing delay of such a huge issue.
Keen says “We understand that a public consultation will now be held on the effects of airport expansion before the government makes a final decision as part of a national policy statement on aviation”
MPs will vote on the public consultation in the winter of 2017-18 and there is likely to be many legal and political challenges with protest groups and local councils vowing to oppose it all the way.
“If that is the case, uncertainties remain. Whilst the UK Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling has hinted at an expedited planning procedure, with no reopening of high-level arguments, the inevitable legal challenges and the convoluted parliamentary and planning processes that are also likely lead me to doubt that any expansion will be completed by the time that UK aviation capacity is predicted to run out in 2025.”
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said the decision to increase capacity at Heathrow Airport is the “right choice” for the UK economy, the freight industry and the nation.
The FTA’s report ‘Sky-high value – The importance of airfreight to the UK economy’ played a key part in influencing the Airports Commission recommendation in favour of a third runway at Heathrow.
FTA director of global and European policy, Chris Welsh says “Freight and passenger services have a strong synergy at Heathrow. It is the wide diversity of destinations and services which makes it such an attractive proposition for those shipping cargo. Airlines accepting freight in the belly hold of passenger planes can often make the difference between services being profitable or not”
The additional runway will offer more direct flights for UK imports and open up 40 new routes which would increase our connection with emerging markets.
Heathrow management said that the airport was ready to deliver a third runway that was “fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK”
The airport is reaching maximum capacity and given the interests of optimising London’s worldwide connectivity, it is a positive step. The decision supports economic recovery, retracts attention from disruptive European trade discussions and demonstrates to the wider world that the UK is open for business.