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Government’s 10-point aviation plan takes wing

Government recently published its Flightpath to the Future document, which contained its 10-point plan for aviation – a strategy aimed at building an innovative and sustainable aviation sector.

While it is encouraging that the plan recognises the vital role of air freight as a tool for levelling up and international trade, Logistics UK has said that it is crucial that the creation of an Aviation Council – as outlined in the plans – includes air freight industry experts to ensure the sector’s voice is fairly represented and carefully considered in the delivery of the plan.


A key priority within the plan is to support growth within the aviation sector, which will include a detailed review of slot capacity. Logistics UK has long called for increased freight capacity to enable further trade opportunities and support UK plc and therefore welcomes this review.

As passenger flights were put on hold during the pandemic, capacity for air freight increased. As noted in the Future of Freight report, “While passenger volumes dropped by 75% during 2020, air cargo saw only a 21% reduction. This sector-led resilience adaptation is an excellent example of the strengths of the freight and logistics sector at large.”

Alexandra Herdman, Public Policy Manager, Logistics UK, said: “As the travel industry begins to recover and the number of passenger flights begin to return to pre-pandemic flights, it is vital that air cargo is not side-lined once again.

“In November 2021, government announced ambitions to achieve £1 trillion in exports annually by the mid-2030s and with £87 billion of GVA depending on air freight exports, the sector must continue to be recognised as a key enabler of the UK economy if government’s ambition is to be achieved.”


Logistics UK welcomes government’s aim to support growth in airport capacity. River Oak Strategic Partners own Manston Airport and are currently working on plans to develop it as an air cargo hub. While they are awaiting their final Development Consent Order (DCO), it is hoped that it will be operational by the end of 2024 and are predicting that once fully operational, it will hit one million tonnes of cargo movements per year.

“Logistics UK looks forward to seeing these plans progress and is encouraged by RSP’s proposals to use hydrogen in order to power ground operations as well as plans to link to the Thames via hydrogen-powered vessels,” Herdman said, “Increased growth in airport capacity would be a vital boost for the sector and government support will play a crucial role in this.”


Logistics UK was also pleased to see the inclusion of innovation for a sustainable future within the plan, most notably its plans to help put the sector on course to achieve Jet Zero by 2050. However, while its ambitions and funding surrounding Sustainable Aviation Fuel are applauded by the business group, it remains concerned that the Jet Zero Council does not include a dedicated freight representative. As the plan highlights the extensive collaboration needed between government and the air industry, Logistics UK is disappointed that freight representatives are not considered a vital part of that.

“Overall, it is encouraging to see government give such careful consideration to aviation as it looks to recover from various challenges across recent years,” Herdman concluded, “Many of the points in the plan are promising. However, given the vital role it plays to the sector and wider UK economy, air freight must remain a primary consideration and must not be side-lined. Logistics UK is therefore urging government to work with industry and include it within plans and councils moving forward.” 


Published On: 21/07/2022 16:00:50


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