Heathrow’s bid for a 3rd runway includes doubling air freight – with associated increase in lorries

In Heathrow’s proposal for a 3rd runway, it plans to double its cargo capacity. It hopes this will help its bid, due to the financial value of air freight. In the past, some of the air freight industry have said Heathrow ignored their needs. Heathrow is now saying that its key logistics role as a single primary air freight hub for the UK is important for the economy, for export competitiveness, and essential for British importers and exporters to enable them to access key global markets.  Some 65% of the UK’s £400bn air freight exports already travel via Heathrow, almost all as belly hold in passenger planes. The airport plans to have its freight area improved with a new cargo railhead, and better road links.  Speaking at the Runways UK conference on 2nd June, Simon Earle said local residents consulted by Heathrow were unhappy about the number of HGV lorries. Air pollution is already often in breach of air quality levels. An article by T&E bemoans the resistance to changes and to cuts in polluting emissions by the lorry manufacturers. That does not bode well for Heathrow air quality, with much higher numbers of HGV movements in future.



Heathrow Airport outlines plans to double cargo capacity


By Will Waters

14 May 2014 (Lloyds Loading List)

Proposals welcomed as ‘Good news for freight’ by UK’s Freight Transport Association

Heathrow Airport will today outline plans to double its cargo capacity in a bid to reinforce its submission for consent to build a third runway, a development regarded as critical for its future.

The UK’s largest airport has long been accused by the freight industry of largely ignoring the needs of cargo, but in its revised expansion plans submitted to the UK Airports Commission today, it is expected to stress the key logistics role that Heathrow already holds within the UK economy and the importance of a single primary air freight hub rather than a sector that is widely dispersed across several UK airports.

The airport will stress that 65% of the UK’s £400bn air freight exports already travel via Heathrow, and that expansion of the airport’s cargo capabilities is essential for maintaining and improving UK export competitiveness.

Heathrow said its revised submission followed discussions with stakeholders including local and national businesses and elected representatives across the UK’s nations and regions.

The proposals were welcomed by the UK’s Freight Transport Association (FTA), which said Heathrow’s cargo announcement echoed the recently published FTA-commissioned ‘Sky High Value’ report, also submitted to The Airports Commission, which detailed the importance of air freight to the UK economy “and why continued investment in airport capacity was essential for British importers and exporters to enable them to access key global markets”.

The FTA’s director of global and European policy, Chris Welsh, said: “We have previously stated that it is imperative that the UK has a single air freight hub, and that Heathrow fulfils that role.

“It is an essential hub of connectivity for passengers and freight, bringing together huge resource, expertise and opportunity in one place.”

The airport’s cargo redevelopment plans are expected to include modern access points “including the potential for a cargo railhead, offering faster, more efficient cargo movements at the hub, which would improve the UK’s export competitiveness and maximise economic benefits”, the FTA said.

The FTA’s recent report said that 95% of the UK’s air cargo was carried in the belly-hold of passenger aircraft, with air freight accounting for nearly 40% of UK imports and exports by value and employing 39,000 people, most clustered around Heathrow.

Welsh added: “Heathrow is the UK’s main airport hub, but is currently operating at 98% capacity and needs to be able to expand to meet the needs of industry. It is a critical hub for air cargo, offering 191 destinations; it moves 1.5 million tonnes of freight and is vital for UK connectivity to its main overseas markets.”

Heathrow’s revised submission were joined by updated submissions for a second runway at Gatwick Airport and the revised submission for the airport commissions third shortlisted option, the so-called ‘Heathrow Hub’ option, which calls for an extension of Heathrow’s second runway.

The Airport’s Commission is due to present the UK government with its recommendations in mid-2015 following an exhaustive investigation of the options to deal with the current shortage of airport capacity at Heathrow and the long-term airport capacity needs in southern England.

Although the Commission is still considering other options, including a ‘greenfield’ airport in the Thames estuary, it has short-listed three proposals to investigate ahead of its final report.

Shippers, forwarders and carriers at last month’s Multimodal exhibition and conference claimed that politicians and airport operators had so far failed to consider freight within the current debate on UK airport capacity.

Tristan Koch, managing director of cargo sales in the Emea region for American Airlines, said no-one doubted the need for new air cargo infrastructure, but the freight industry needed to be “more visible” in arguing the importance of its needs to the UK government.

Grant Liddell, business development director of forwarder Metro Shipping, believed the problem was one of perception, and that no-one liked to boast about how much air freight they do.

“Retailers feel it is ‘un-green’ and the consumer may think [flown] goods are overpriced,” he said.

Liddell said billions of pounds had been invested in new ports, but there had been no similar impetus from airports. If Heathrow was constrained by the houses surrounding it, he argued, alternatives further north must be considered.

Graeme Ferguson, commercial director for Manchester Airports Group, operator of Stansted, Bournemouth, East Midlands and Manchester airports, was in strong agreement, claiming that the FTA report to the Davies Commission was “so skewed, I thought Heathrow had sponsored it”.

Welsh said industry had coalesced around one main hub, and the situation was not unique to the UK.

Koch agreed. “More cargo on our outbound flights is of non-UK origin than UK, so the hub role is crucial,” he said. “But we’re putting barriers in the way.

“We’re falling behind improvements in Europe such as expedited customs processes.
“Many customers only use air freight when they have to. It needs to be cheaper and faster, and service quality needs to go up.”






Lorries: 21st-century fleet or dinosaurs on our roads?

Driving Europe’s transport industry in a more sustainable direction is a formidable challenge, not least because it means a fairly fundamental change in the way fairly large industries do their business.

It is in the DNA of these industries to resist change forced upon them by politicians. Carmakers oppose CO2 standards that make them fit clean tech to their cars, the aviation and shipping industries oppose doing their share and of course oil companies fight any kind of change that could end our addiction to their products.

Still, truck makers are a rather special case. I will explain.
The trucking sector disproportionately affects all of us. Lorries represent just 3% of vehicles but they emit 25% of road transport CO2 emissions and that share continues to rise.
Lorries are also involved in 15% of road deaths, often killing cyclists and pedestrians, and the health costs associated with lorry pollution are estimated at €45 billion a year, according to the European Environment Agency.
The lorry industry hasn’t exactly been pro-active in tackling these problems. Lorry fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions levels stagnated for almost 20 years and truck safety made only minimal strides, when compared to the Euro NCAP-driven safety improvements in the car sector.
Still, lorry makers vehemently oppose any suggestion that they should do more. They’re against CO2 standards and  dismiss new safety rules. Instead they promise us all will be well as long as we let the market take care of the problem. Given its past performance, that’s a hard line to tow.
What makes the lorry industry really stand out though is that it does not merely oppose change that is imposed; it simply opposes any kind of change.
The weights and dimensions file that is currently going through the EU legislative machinery is a case in point. Europe’s outdated lorry dimensions rules constrain the design of lorry tractors and force blunt cab-over-engine designs. So the Commission has proposed relaxing length constraints, so that lorry makers can make  new curvy designs. Such curvy designs would be more aerodynamic, safer and more comfortable for drivers. There’s absolutely no downside to it.
The truck industry didn’t ask for this design flexibility, so when it was confronted with the Commission proposal, confusion reigned. How to react to a proposal that does not impose anything but just enables things?
Eventually, the industry grudgingly conceded that while in principle flexibility to make better cabins isn’t a bad thing, in this case new designs should be prohibited until at least 2025. The reason for this rather odd position? To maintain ‘competitive neutrality’ – suppose one manufacturer would have better designs on the shelves and another not, wouldn’t that be terribly unfair?
Imagine the big smart phone producers demanding a 10-year moratorium on 4G connectivity because one of them has just put out a new 3G smartphone and wants to keep selling it for a while. You could be certain the anti-cartel police would find them soon.
Not so in the truck sector. EU governments sympathise with the prohibition line of truck makers and agreed new designs should be banned for at least another eight years.
That banning safer, cleaner trucks will go at the expense of lives, diesel, pollution, and even those truck makers that are ready for new designs, doesn’t seem to sway Council.
Lorry makers as well as those regulating the sector should reflect carefully. The problems associated with trucking are real and very tangible for a lot of people. Lorries killing cyclists or lorry pollution destroying people’s health will continue to make headlines.
Not harvesting the lowest-hanging fruit available will raise the cost of tackling our oil addition and climate change. And it may also suggest truckmakers are inherently incapable of cleaning up their act – in which  case the EU should take its ambitions to shift vast amounts of freight to rail a bit more seriously.