Environmental group launches new report and calls for a night air freight tax

10.12.2009   (AirportWatch press release)
Launch of New Report:   “Air Freight: The Facts”
AirportWatch, the umbrella body of organisations opposed to airport expansion,
is calling for a Night Air Freight Tax.   The call comes on the day AirportWatch
launches a major report on air freight (1).   The report, Air Freight: The Impacts,  was
launched at Southend, to coincide with the last day on consultation of plans to
expand the local airport being proposed by the freight magnate Eddie Stobbart
The  36 page report highlights the tax-breaks enjoyed by the aviation freight
industry.   It pays no tax on aviation fuel.   It is exempt from VAT.   And it does
not pay the equivalent of Air Passenger Duty.   AirportWatch is calling for Air
Passenger Duty to be replaced by a Plane Tax, a proposal supported by both the
Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.   But AirportWatch is calling for a higher
rate of tax to be paid on freight planes using the airports at night.
John Stewart, the current Chair of AirportWatch, said, “A higher charge on night
freight flights would be a sensible market mechanism to force the industry to
decide just how much freight really needs to be flown during the night.   Our report
suggests that only about 20% of express freight is time-critical.   Fewer freight
flights at night would bring real benefits to residents under the flight paths.”
The report also highlights the global impact of air freight.   It estimates that
air cargo accounts for about 20% of all global aviation emissions.   It has found
that air freight produces the most carbon emissions per tonne of any form of freight
transport, with considerably greater amounts of CO2 produced per tonne kilometre
than shipping.
Rose Bridger, the author of the report, said, ‘Air freight volumes have reduced
during the recession, but freight capacity expansion is planned and underway at
airports all over the UK. This will either undermine our greenhouse gas reduction
targets, or leave us with white elephants if it is underutilised’.
The report found that the UK is running a considerable air freight trade deficit
– over £20 billion annually with non-EU countries (which account for 85% of UK
Notes for Editors
Full report      Air Freight Report   36 pages
5 page summary  Air Freight Summary
Airport-by-airport analysis   Air Freight Report Airport by Airport final 
15 pages


The Stobart Group, most famous for their freight business, bought London Southend
Airport in December 2008. They plan a massive expansion, taking the airport from
under 50,000 to two million passengers per year by 2020. As well as passenger
flights, Stobart anticipates that up to 10% of the 53,300 flights they are permitted
each year will be for freight. Local residents are worried about the noise, pollution
and road congestion that this will cause and are fighting the proposal to extend
the airport’s runway.
For further information:
John Stewart, Chair AirportWatch, 0207 737 6641; 07957385650
Rose Bridger, author of the report, 07779 137522; 01484 326886
Denis Walker, Press Officer SAEN (Stop Airport Extension Now), 01702 309693;
07545 967116 or on their website – http://saen.org.uk/