Heathrow announced Tuesday an updated plan to expand the airport, including doubling cargo capacity to improve UK export competitiveness.
Heathrow already moves 65 percent of the UK’s 400 billion pound (US$673.4 billion) freight exports.
The plan is meant to create more than 100,000 new jobs and at least 100 billion pounds (US$168.3 billion) of UK economic benefits.
Heathrow’s revised expansion plans will be submitted Wednesday to the Airports Commission.
“Expansion at Heathrow matters to the whole country. Only Heathrow will connect all of the UK to fast-growing international markets. The plans we are submitting to the Airports Commission demonstrate major economic benefits from a third runway for the whole of the UK,” John Holland-Kaye, development director and chief executive designate of Heathrow, said.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said this was good news for freight. Heathrow’s announcement echoed the recently published FTA-commissioned document “Sky High Value,” which detailed the importance of air cargo to the UK economy.
“The plans outlined by Heathrow today are very much welcomed by FTA and echo the findings in our own recent report,” Chris Welsh, FTA’s director of global and European policy, said. “We have previously stated that it is imperative that the UK has a single airfreight hub, and that Heathrow fulfills that role. It is an essential hub of connectivity for passengers and freight, bringing together huge resource, expertise and opportunity in one place.”
FTA found that airfreight accounts for nearly 40 percent of UK imports and exports by value and employs 39,000 people, most clustered around Heathrow.
“Heathrow is the UK’s main airport hub, but is currently operating at 98 percent capacity and needs to be able to expand to meet the needs of industry,” Welsh said. “It is a critical hub for air cargo, offering 191 destinations; it moves 1.5 million tonnes of freight and is vital for UK connectivity to its main overseas markets.”