Return of capacity and innovation crucial to air freight, says Logistics UK

Monday 01 March 2021

Air cargo has played a vital role in supporting UK PLC throughout the pandemic, but its long-term value to the economy is dependent on capacity recovery and innovative solutions to efficiency, according to attendees at Logistics UK’s latest air freight webinar. As Zoe McLernon, Logistics UK’s Multi Modal Policy Manager explains, attendees at the event – held on 24 February – were positive about the future of air freight but remain concerned about the timelines for a return to normal flight patterns and progressing important innovation and research work: 


“The majority of air freight is transported via the belly hold of passenger flights however, international passenger demand in 2020 was 75.6% below 2019 levels and as a result, freight capacity was significantly reduced. The sector is resilient and successfully adapted to new trading conditions at the start of the pandemic, with cargo-only movements increasing significantly with slot waivers allowing freighters more access to slots. And while this allowed the sector to continue servicing the nation and has been crucial to fighting the pandemic with air cargo used to transport PPE, pharmaceuticals and vaccines across the world, it is imperative that passenger flights are quickly restored once safe to do so, to ensure that the UK can continue to trade with its international partners as efficiently as possible. 


"We have seen a positive increase in e-commerce which is crucial to strengthening the sector, however, the future return of passengers and therefore increased capacity, will prove essential to servicing this growth and aiding the recovery of the UK's economy. There is already a lot of positive work happening in the sector, and focusing on the return of passenger flights, as well as new technologies such as warehouse automation and more sustainable aircraft, is vital." 


Also discussed at the webinar, which – in addition to Logistics UK speakers – featured a panel composed of representatives from across the sector such as Airport Industrial Unit Property Trust (AIPUT), Manchester Airports Group and International Air Transport Association, was the importance of sustainability to the industry as well as investment priorities, technology and automation, traffic rights following the end of the EU Exit transition period and Freeports. 


For more information about Logistics UK’s work for its air freight members, including details of how to join its air freight member council, a democratic body open to all the organisation’s members from across the sector, please visit . 


Logistics UK (formerly FTA) is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With COVID-19, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. Logistics UK supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods.