UK Airports Commission needs to focus on cargo, FTA says

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has told the Airports Commission in the UK that air cargo is vital to the UK economy.

Outlining its concerns in a letter to Howard Davies, chairman of the Airports Commission, FTA commented on the conclusions outlined in the Airports Commission's interim report.

"Whilst supporting the emerging conclusions on aviation capacity, FTA would like to emphasize to the Airports Commission that air cargo is crucially important to British businesses as importers and exporters, and is a key enabler for growth and the future success of the UK economy," Chris Welsh, FTA's director global and European policy, said.

The report was released in December 2013.

"Decisions on airport location and capacity are among the most important strategic choices a country or city can make, influencing the economic, environmental and social development of cities and regions more than almost any other single planning decision," the report stated. "They are also among the most contentious."

FTA said it welcomed the thorough nature of the Commission's investigation, and added that the recognition of the need for additional airport capacity in the Southeast was also welcome. But the association said it was essential that any future capacity strengthens the existing hub base of the southeast of England.

"The importance of London as the UK hub for freight needs to be recognized alongside passenger traffic," Welsh said. "The wider range of services that can be attracted by a major hub with transfer flights makes London the major freight hub for industry. It is critical for UK industry that new services are developed to emerging markets as this is where Heathrow is already falling behind competitors due to lack of capacity."

FTA has commissioned a report called “Sky High Value - The Importance of Airfreight to the UK Economy,” which will be launched March 20. The report will reflect FTA's contribution to the Airports Commission's work.

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