Runway decision needed now, FTA tells Heathrow conference

Wednesday 14 September 2016

The importance of Heathrow as a world-class hub for UK imports and exports was highlighted by FTA’s Chris Welsh today when he addressed a conference in London exploring the airport’s future development.

Mr Welsh, the Freight Transport Association’s Director of Global and European Policy, stressed the need for an urgent Government decision on a third runway at Heathrow. He told delegates that the Brexit vote makes connectivity to new and emerging markets all the more pressing.

“The Government must now follow the recommendation of its own inquiry and back a third runway at Heathrow. Without it, the UK will irreversibly fall behind competitors such as Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt, and much of the air freight market will over time transfer to these continental airports,” he said.

Air freight accounts for around 40% of the UK’s imports and exports by value. High end manufacturing industries such as pharmaceuticals, automotives, mobile telephones and jewellery are dependent on Heathrow and additional capacity is vital to meet growing demand for connectivity to emerging markets in Asia, the Indian sub-continent and South America.

The Davies Commission concluded in July 2015 that Heathrow rather than Gatwick should expand because of the economic benefits for the whole country, which included £147 billion in economic growth over the next 60 years and the creation on 70,000 new jobs by 2050. And the York Aviation report commissioned by FTA confirmed Heathrow as the best and most cost effective option for air cargo, offering 191 destinations and moving 1.5 million tonnes of freight annually.

Mr Welsh, who was speaking at the ‘Shaping the Future Heathrow’ Conference at the Royal Institute of British Architects, said: “Only Heathrow has the connectivity to global markets and infrastructure to be a truly international freight hub, offering an unrivalled range of direct flights and airlines and minimising the need to connecting transport by road. Delaying a decision further will cause irreversible damage.”
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