Heathrow airport – the origin of four out of five of all U.K. long-haul flights – is critical to the U.K.’s position as a hub for international trade. With that in mind, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye announced a plan with a 15-year vision to invest US$273.7 million in improving the hub’s ability to transport both cargo and people.
The plan includes a proposal for a pharmaceutical storage area, to support airlines in moving temperature-sensitive and valuable cargo, as well as better infrastructure to reduce congestion and create smoother processes. The goal, Holland-Kaye said, is to enable freight to flow better through the facility and cut processing time roughly in half, from eight or nine hours to just four.
Additionally, with a nod to the needs of forwarders, the project will include a facility on the airfield for handling air-to-air cargo, which will help reduce trans-shipment times that currently average about six hours. A new truck-parking facility also will be created as a waiting area for the drivers of more than 100 vehicles, offering secure parking, access control, toilets, showers and places to eat.
The expansion plans at Heathrow were created with input from businesses, IATA and other stakeholders to fully implement e-freight, reduce paperwork and become one of the first airports to become 100 percent digital, Holland-Kaye said. Heathrow also developed this plan after talking with freight forwarders, government and exporters. The improvements are intended to encourage airlines to bring cargo-friendly aircraft with greater freight capacity to the airport, which are more modern, greener and quieter.