FTA praises Heathrow expansion

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Government approval of a third runway at Heathrow has been praised by the FTA
Government approval of a third runway at Heathrow has been praised by the FTA

Related tags Chief executive International trade Export Uk

Plans to expand Heathrow airport – which has been given government backing today (October 25) – have been praised by the Freight Transport association (FTA).

The new plans would see a third runway constructed at the airport and up to 77,000 new jobs created.

FTA deputy chief executive James Hookham told FoodManufacture.co.uk the planned expansion was the choice the government should make because of the connectivity it offered for the export market.

This was essential given the country’s aspirations in the post-Brexit world,” ​said Hookham. “As air-cargo moves in the belly-hold of passenger aircraft, the wider choice of destinations for them means better choice for freight destinations.

“For food and drink, I think it offers – specially for fresh food – the continued opportunity to import and export products to many new and existing destinations.”

Reliability for trade

Hookham said that government backing of the Heathrow expansion plans gave assurances that the airport would continue to provide a high level of connectivity and reliability for trade.

“This would be good for food manufacturers who source their ingredients and raw materials from abroad – a lot of which are moved by air,”​ added Hookham.

Food Storage and Distribution Federation chief executive Chris Sturman also agreed the third runway would boost UK exports.

“British exporters can take advantage of these additional freight lanes and flight routes to expand business into areas of the world which were difficult to reach in the past, such as various areas of China,”​ added Sturman.

The Department of Transport (DoT) said the decision was part of the government’s commitment to keeping the UK “open for business” ​as a hub for trade and tourism.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling called the announcement today (October 25) “truly momentous”​ and said the government was taking decisive action to secure the UK’s position in the global aviation market.

A new runway at Heathrow will improve connectivity in the UK itself and crucially boost our connections with the rest of the world – supporting exports, trade and job opportunities.

“This is an important issue for the whole country. That is why the government’s preferred scheme will be subject to full and fair public consultation.”

Significant boost

Connections from the UK to long haul destinations and to growing world markets – including in Asia and South America – would bring a significant boost to trade, said the DoT.

Heathrow already handles more freight by value than all other UK airports combined, accounting for 31% of the UK’s non-EU trade. Its expansion would create more opportunities for UK business to get their goods to new markets.

Manufacturing organisation EEF’s chief executive Terry Scuoler called the announcement the right one for the industry and the country.

“Heathrow will be a key linchpin in enabling post-Brexit trade,”​ said Scuoler. “The important role aviation plays in supporting Britain’s global trade status has been side-lined. This crucial role should not be overlooked.”

“This decision provides reassurance to manufacturers that access to direct, efficient and cost-effective trade routes to the rest of the world will be backed by action and not just words.”

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