London’s Heathrow airport is currently going from strength to strength. The UK’s primary air transit hub racked up considerable air cargo expansion rates during 2016, while new figures indicate that freight volumes continued to grow early this year.
Heathrow is the world’s primary air gateway to the vibrant British economy. It is becoming a crucial transit point for global air cargo transport, as the onset of e-commerce is facilitating a greater need to get goods across borders quickly and efficiently. This has allowed Heathrow to regularly record monthly air cargo expansion rates of around 5%, which it did in December 2016.
The airport’s fortunes rose to new heights in 2016. It added new services to Jakarta, San Jose, Santiago and Inverness, making it easier for air cargo carriers to fly goods all over the world than ever before. Data shows that Heathrow’s air freight rates climbed by 3%, year-on-year, in 2016. This expansion outpaced passenger growth at the airport last year, as the number of passengers who travelled through Heathrow saw an uptick of around 1% within the same 12 months.
This growth pushed Heathrow’s air cargo volumes past the 1.5 million tonne mark in 2016. Heathrow’s freight capacity sits at around 1.5 million tonnes, meaning that demand for the airport’s services is fast outstripping supply. According to Air Cargo Week, an industry portal, Heathrow’s freight volumes only keep expanding, with the airport registering a 4% rate of growth in February of this year.
This progress can be attributed to the rising role of emerging markets at Heathrow. The hub saw air cargo volumes go up by 10% on services to Brazil, by 5% on services to India and by 4.2% on services China, while the North American and Middle Eastern markets saw increases of 7% and 8%. In the first two months of 2017, therefore, 251,212 tonnes of air cargo were handled at Heathrow airport.
Commenting on these extremely positive figures, Heathrow’s Chief Executive Officer, John Holland Kaye, said: “Heathrow is off to a flying start in 2017 – we’re delivering the best service of any major airport in Europe to record numbers of passengers and boosting British exports with record cargo volumes.” Speaking about how Heathrow will progress in future, he continued:
“Our new sustainability leadership strategy will make Heathrow a centre of excellence for sustainable aviation and planning for expansion is firmly underway with SMEs across Britain lining up to help us deliver it.” Heathrow recently announced plans to make its proposed third runway carbon neutral, to minimise air and noise pollution. The runway could increase its air cargo capacity to 3 million tonnes.
Explaining the significance of this news to the global air cargo industry, Ignazio Coraci commented. “Heathrow is racking up incredible air freight growth volumes right now, bringing a constant stream of new business for carriers. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that Heathrow is reaching capacity, limiting opportunities for our sector. A third runway would address this issue, giving Heathrow the ability to bring new opportunities to the global air cargo sector, so we can all grow together in future.”