It’s almost impossible to add freighter capacity into Heathrow at this point, due to overcrowding, but late last week, a Qatar Airways Cargo A330 freighter touched down at London’s Heathrow Airport, marking the start of weekly freighter services to London’s busiest airport.
The new freighter service brings the carrier’s total cargo capacity out of the United Kingdom to over 1,500 tonnes per week.
“The commencement of the freighter services to London Heathrow marks our sixth new freighter destination for 2017 and boosts our current belly-hold capacity available on 72 passenger flights to the United Kingdom every week,” said Ulrich Ogiermann, Qatar Airways Chief Officer Cargo.
The news bodes well for shippers, who have struggled with lack of options due to lack of capacity at the airport. “It’s a constant state of irritation for shippers,” said Alex Veitch, FTA’s customs lead and head of Global Policy. “There are not enough long haul direct connections for traders in Britain to move goods where they want to go, and there is pent up demand for air freight.”
Qatar Airways Cargo currently operates freighters to London’s Stansted Airport and also transports cargo on passenger flights to and from Birmingham, Edinburgh, London Heathrow and Manchester.
While the Middle East air cargo market has seen growth rates fall well behind the double digit gains of the last decade, Qatar Cargo posted a 21 percent increase in tonnage from 2015 to 2016. With Saudi Arabia and its allies essentially blockading the peninsula now, including denial of landing rights and airspace, it remains to be seen what sort of cargo numbers Qatar puts up for the remainder of 2017.