Multimodal seminar assesses the challenges for UK airports

During Multimodal 2016 (10-12 May at the NEC in Birmingham), Julie Maddocks, head of media relations, Freight Transport Association (FTA), chaired ‘The Future of Airports in the UK’ seminar, during which key commentators expressed their views on the topic and whether the proposed third runway at Heathrow will be given the go-ahead by the government – Charlotte Dawson reports.

Alex Veitch, head of global policy, FTA, started off the seminar by talking about how 40 per cent of the UK’s freight, by value, is delivered by air.  He also identified that FTA supports the airport commission conclusion that further capacity is needed in the South East as Heathrow is so busy a third runway is needed.  Mr Veitch further suggested that he would like to see night-time operations in place if the third runway received the go-ahead.

Nick Platts, head of cargo, Heathrow, also added his support for a night-time regime, if the third runway was introduced.  He then went on to say that the UK is the second largest cargo exporter and importer in Europe, although we import more than we export, and that Heathrow is the answer of how to export more, with a third runway. He also emphasised that Heathrow is aiming to be the best for cargo by investing, he further outlined that as the major passenger hub in the UK, Heathrow will always be at capacity.  Mr Platts expressed the need to engage with the facility owners, as it’s not one size fits all.

The media often doesn’t consider other categories like cargo, they’re always against it, it’s always about the environment, identified Larry Coyne, CEO, Coyne Airways.  He also mentioned that the UK government is putting things off saying that it’s a tough decision, while explaining why it’s not, it’s just simple, as he also agrees that there should be a third runway to help ease congestion.  Mr Coyne also mentioned the forthcoming EU referendum saying “If there is a Brexit, then it really depends on the terms of Brexit, I don’t know but I’m worried about it.”

Mark Onley, GM Cargo, Europe, Middle East, India & Africa, Air Canada Cargo, mentioned that he had heard a lot from politicians, of which none are facts. Mr Olney identified that security in relation to cargo coming into the UK, needs to be made more efficient and easier in the long run.

Neil Robinson, director of sustainability, Manchester Airports Group, reiterated that Manchester is the largest freight airport outside of Heathrow, and that as Heathrow is full to capacity which is a good reason for an additional runway for both freight and passenger traffic.  However, he explained that it will be at least 10 years away because it is politically difficult to deliver and there is a need to attract businesses to the North West and create an environment that is sustainable for the UK.