Air Freight News

Below are links to stories relating to air freight

 

Briefing from the No 3rd Runway Coalition on the Heathrow consultations

eathrow has a current consultation, on its runway plans, which closes on 28th March. People are advised, if they send in a response, to make sure their submission is not taken as tacit agreement with the 3rd runway. The No 3rd Runway Coalition has put together a 2 page briefing, advising people about the many areas in which the consultation is inadequate, and suggesting a list of issues that remain unaddressed by Heathrow. Just some of the issues where the consultation fails are: - No clarity on plans for road and rail access and no commitment to pay for them. - No assessment of cost of moving the M25 nor a traffic impact assessment whilst construction takes place. - No assessment of the impact of construction of local air quality. - No assessment of impact on assets of national importance (parks and open spaces) from potentially being overflown for 12-hour periods with no respite from noise.  On questions people should ask, just some are:  - Why does the current Heathrow consultation on expansion include proposals for a shorter runway that have not been considered by the Airports Commission nor included in the Airports NPS?  - What assessment has been made of the financial cost of the proposals to move the M25 or put it into a tunnel? - What assessment has been made of the impact on local roads of a potential 50% increase in the level of freight handled by Heathrow?  And there are many more. See the full briefing here

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Heathrow air cargo at Christmas. Do items like Christmas lights, Calendars and dried flower need to be air cargo?

Heathrow is proud to boast about the amount of cargo it handles, in the run-up to Christmas. It publishes a chosen few of the statistics, for the month from 24th November to 24th December from a year earlier. These show the huge tonnage of items that are air freighted, but are not perishable - and presumably could perfectly well be transported to (or from) the UK by ship.  Heathrow says the data "reveals sharp spike in exports of seasonal essentials including Christmas lights, calendars, fish, lobster, and meat." The press release is a bit unclear about just how much of the cargo is exports, and how much is imports - or cargo in transit through Heathrow. But it celebrates air freighting items like books, Christmas lights, calendars and dried flowers (sic - dried, not fresh) for decorations. Heathrow only mentions the non-EU destinations for cargo. They are very proud of huge tonnage of salmon that is shipped abroad (salmon farming does a huge amount of environmental harm, which is increasingly becoming known to the public). Heathrow now also exports trout (also farmed) and lobster.  These are the items being flown over people's heads, as they suffer the noise of Heathrow's planes - or the items in lorries adding to local air pollution.  Essential??

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East Midlands Airport boss on plans for future expansion (hope to double passengers and triple freight)

East Midlands Airport (EMA) is owned by MAG, the Manchester Airports Group, and the 3rd largest after Manchester and Stansted. In its most recent accounts, revenue grew by 3.6% to £62.4m for the year to March 2017 – far behind Manchester airport’s 12.5% growth to £444.5m, but slightly above the 3% for Stansted, which had a £294.1m turnover. The airport's management hopes that being near Nottingham, Derby and Leicester, and with programmes such as HS2 and the Midlands Engine aiming to grow the local economy, it has growth prospects for the future. There are always hopes of connections to 2nd-tier Chinese cities such as Ningbo, where the University of Nottingham has a campus, India and the United States – possibly key markets in the post-Brexit world. East Midlands wants to double is passenger number, to 10 million - and almost treble the amount of freight to one million tonnes by around 2030 to 2035. It is the UK’s largest pure freight airport – for aircraft dedicated to carrying cargo – in the UK. (Heathrow has much more, but that comes as belly-hold cargo, in passenger planes).  EMA handles about 350,000 tonnes of freight and cargo through a 24/7 operation. Noisy planes fly all night.

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IATA says global air freight rose more in first half of 2017 than any time since financial crisis

IATA says global air freight traffic rose 10.4% during the first half of 2017, making it the largest growth in half a year for 7 years.  Global air freight capacity for the first half of 2017 grew 3.6% compared to the same period in 2016, resulting in a freight load factor of 44.8%. “Demand growth continues to significantly outstrip capacity growth, which is positive for yields,” IATA said.  In June, air freight traffic grew 11% year-over-year, down from 12.7% in May, but much more than the 3.9% five-year average pace.  But IATA senior economist David Oxley reaffirmed that the “best of the cyclical upturn in air freight may now have passed … while business surveys still indicate growing export orders, the new export orders component of the global manufacturing PMI [purchasing managers’ index] has broadly tracked sideways since March.” Unless global manufacturers’ export orders increase, a moderation in year on year air freight growth will likely materialize toward the end of the year."  IATA said carriers in Asia-Pacific and Europe were responsible for two-thirds of the annual increase in traffic during the first half of the year.  IATA said air cargo demand "is growing at a faster pace than at any time since the global financial crisis."

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Massive underground warehouse at Heathrow (with park above – under very low planes) to increase air cargo volumes (+ air pollution)

An underground warehousing project near Heathrow has been approved by Hounslow councillors. It is proposed by a company called "Formal Investments."  The 44 hectare site, just to the north-eastern corner of the airport, the Rectory Farm.  It is directly under the northern runway approach path (on westerlies) so would be horrendously noisy with planes not more than 500 feet or so above. Above the subterranean warehouse would be a new park, with sports pitches, using extracted minerals from underneath the currently "disused" land. The site, alongside The Parkway (A312) and Bath Road (A4)could deliver Hounslow’s share of minerals, required by the London Plan. The first areas underground may be available in 2022  if work starts in 2019 - the whole thing could take 15 years to finish. Heathrow wants more warehousing space, as it hopes to increase the amount of air cargo - especially if allowed a 3rd runway. That increase in freight, arriving and departing in lorries, is a huge problem for local air pollution. That pollution (NO2 and particulates) is an almost insuperable barrier to a 3rd runway - especially with ever more freight. Estate agents Savills, said: “Rectory Farm offers a pioneering and innovative solution to the shortage of industrial space inside the M25."

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Heathrow cargo consolidation app, to cut NO2 – but outweighed by anticipated freight growth

Heathrow has said it hopes to double the amount of air freight it carries, if it gets a 3rd runway. Most of this freight arrives at the airport, or leaves the airport, in diesel powered lorries or vans. Heathrow knows it has real problems worsening local air quality, with particulates and NO2 in particular. The Airports Commission report was particularly weak on NO2 air pollution, and ignored the emissions from Heathrow’s air cargo. In March 2016 Heathrow put out the news that it is trying to get freight companies to consolidate some loads, share journeys etc. Now Heathrow has put out a similar story, about a new App it has produced. This new load consolidation App is called "Heathrow CargoCloud." It might save companies a bit of money, and it might slightly cut the number of trucks, and hence the levels of NO2 air pollution. The illegal levels of air pollution are a real problem for Heathrow, and neither the airport nor the government has any realistic means of getting these down in the short term. In reality, getting a few trucks off the road - though very welcome - is not going to be enough to negate a planned doubling of freight tonnage. Heathrow hopes its App will make Heathrow "an airport of choice for cargo.” ie. attract more freight (and more congestion and air pollution) cancelling out any improvements ...

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Freight train to China leaves UK – carrying whisky, pharmaceuticals etc – not needing air freight

The first rail freight train from China to the UK arrived three months ago, carrying imports. Now the first return trip is being made, on 10th April, leaving Essex, on the 7,500 mile trip. Thirty containers contain British produced goods including whisky, soft drinks, vitamins, baby products and pharmaceuticals. The DB Cargo locomotive leaves the DP World London Gateway rail terminal in Stanford-le-Hope for the city of Yiwu in Zhejiang province, eastern China. After going through the Channel Tunnel the train will pass through France, Belgium, Duisburg in Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, arriving at Yiwu on 27th April. The operators say it is cheaper to send goods by train than by air and faster than by sea. The service is part of China's One Belt, One Road programme of reviving the ancient Silk Road trading routes with the West. The train link means products can be both imported and exported from the UK, as well as by ship - with both being far lower carbon modes of transport than air. Heathrow claims it is vital to the UK economy because of its exports of items like pharmaceuticals and whisky. But it makes better sense to ship these by rail, rather than use so much fuel getting them up to 38,000 feet .... Items that are non-perishable do not need to be air freighted. Frozen fish (Scottish salmon) can be carried by rail.

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China starts rail cargo link from Shanghai to London (Barking) – cheaper than air freight, faster than sea

China has launched its first freight train to London, travelling from Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China (near Shanghai) to Barking. The trip will take around 18 days to travel over 7,400 miles (about 6,200 miles, as the crow flies). The route runs through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, on the way to London. The UK is the eighth country to be added to the China-Europe service, and London is the 15th city. There are hopes that it will strengthen China- UK ties. The railway is a major strategic development to assist Xi Jinping's multi-billion dollar 'One Belt, One Road' strategy. The plan is to create a trade network connecting Asia with Africa and Europe along old Silk Road trading routes. There are currently 39 routes linking 16 Chinese cities to 12 European cities. The train to London carried a cargo of clothes, bags and other household items. In October a train arrived in Hamburg from China after a 13 day trip. Its 45 containers carried consumer goods, furniture, clothes, lamps and electronics, which were then transported to various European cities. The trains returning to China have carried items such as German meat products, Russian woods and French wines. Transporting goods by rail is a much cheaper and lower carbon method than air freight via Heathrow, and faster than sea cargo.

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Heathrow air cargo includes “80 million animals per year” – and largest import is fresh beans

In a long and breathlessly excited and impressed account, a writer for the Daily Mail records his trip to Heathrow cargo warehouses. There are some interesting insights. He says Heathrow handles 80 million animals per year, including "280,000 reptiles, 28 million fish, 16,000 cats and dogs, 2,000 birds and 200 horses every year." ... and "including bears, lions, penguins, elephants and tigers." (There may be good reasons to question the environmental sustainability or morality of shipping non-domestic animals in this manner ...) Some of the animals in the Animal Health Centre in Feltham have been seized from smugglers, such as number of African pygmy hedgehogs. Apart from the animals there are vast amounts of flowers and perishable goods. Huge amounts of bell peppers, cucumbers and salmon are shipped to the Far East and the US every day. Some 100 tonnes of salmon, "from countries such as Scotland and Norway" are flown overseas each day. Luxury cars are shipped by air, and ship parts. Drugs are sent when needed urgently. One of the most daft shipments was "ice cubes sent from London for a swanky cocktail party in Korea" ... "The biggest import into the UK are fresh beans, but also berries, asparagus and exotic fruits."

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April 2016: Holland-Kaye says “shocking” to see the problems air freight operations are causing neighbours

Heathrow’s CEO John Holland-Kaye has described as “shocking” the problems that the airport - and its freight especially - causes the local community, following a bike ride through Colnbrook with Poyle with Parish Council chair Peter Hood in April 2016. He used Heathrow airport’s intranet to tell employees about the “shocking” impact of ancillary operations, and the “haphazard way” in which huge cargo sheds and smaller warehouses have sprung up in the middle of residential neighbourhoods. He said “it was shocking, and there is no one organisation you can hold accountable”. He recognised that villages such as Colnbrook, Bedfont, and Feltham were already being hit with “congestion, pollution and antisocial behaviour” as a result of activities associated with “keeping Britain’s trade flowing”. He added: "So it is up to us to bring together cargo companies, landowners, councils and residents to stop lorries messing up local communities. It won’t be easy, but if we take a lead, we can be a good neighbour to Colnbrook and other villages.” No specific actions have so far been announced yet, however.

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