Heathrow unveils investment plan to double cargo volumes

Speaking at the BCC Annual Conference, Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has announced a £180 million investment to revolutionise cargo handling and throughput at the airport.

UK exporters will benefit from the plans to double cargo volumes at Heathrow, the UK’s biggest port for goods by value.  Faster and more efficient cargo movements will also encourage airlines to increase freight capacity, and boost the UK’s global export competitiveness.

Heathrow connects British exporters to global markets and makes it easier for investors to come to the UK.  With four out of five of all long haul flights coming from Heathrow, the airport is critical to the UK’s position as a hub for international trade.

In addressing the BCC conference, Mr Holland-Kaye said: “Cargo is essential for UK PLC and Heathrow is its global freight connector, with 26 per cent of all UK goods by value going through the airport.

“This investment plan will significantly improve our cargo facilities and support British businesses to keep the economy moving, connecting exporters to the world and helping the government reach its £1 trillion export target by 2020.”

The blueprint plans were developed with key stakeholders as part of a 15 year vision to invest around £180 million in revolutionising its cargo facilities, processes and people.

They include proposals for a specialist pharmaceutical storage area – to support airlines to move highly valuable and temperature sensitive medicines – as well as better infrastructure to reduce congestion and smoother processes, all enabling freight to flow better through the airport and halving process time from eight/nine hours to four hours.
In addition, freight forwarders using Heathrow will benefit from:
• Air to air transit – a facility located on the airfield which will enable smoother handling of transit cargo that arrives by air and is due to fly out by air.  This will shorten connection times from a current average of six+ hours.
• Becoming 100 per cent e-freight ready – working with businesses, airlines, IATA, HMRC and the DfT to fully implement e-freight at Heathrow.  This reduces the need for lengthy paper work and will be one of the first airports to become 100 per cent digital.
• A new truck parking facility – a waiting area for drivers which will cater for over 100 vehicles and offer secure parking, access control, toilets/showers and dining facilities.

Heathrow has developed its vision to overhaul the cargo facilities after working closely with stakeholders including freight forwarders, Government, exporters and British businesses, forming an ambition to become one of the leading European airports for cargo.

The improvements will also encourage airlines to bring cargo friendly aircraft with greater freight capacity to Heathrow, which are typically more modern, greener and quieter.

Commenting on the announcement, Chris Welsh – FTA Director of Global and European Policy, said: “Heathrow’s planned investment and increased freight capacity is excellent news, and exactly the type of commitment that FTA has long been asking for.

“The significance of air freight is often overlooked, but today’s announcement illustrates that Heathrow Airport has listened very carefully to ourselves and the freight industry.  The improvements it is proposing are essential to the growth and success of the UK economy.”