Heathrow’s Freight Expansion Outpaces Passengers

London’s Heathrow airport is one of the world’s busiest air cargo hubs. It faces little risk of losing this position, as new figures show that Heathrow saw such strong air cargo growth in 2016, that the rate of this expansion outpaced the rise in passenger numbers it experienced during the same period.

The expansion has been overwhelming

Massive hub

The UK’s capital is an economic powerhouse. London is one of the planet’s leading financial markets for global businesses. It is also developing lucrative technology sector, with its financial technology industry doing particularly well. According to We Are Top 10, a technology resource, London’s gross domestic product (GDP) is currently US$731.2bn, making it the world’s fifth wealthiest city.

A significant amount of London’s GDP comes from exports, which currently stands at roughly £92bn per year. London depends on its logistics sector, to transport goods to consumers overseas and capitalise on its export potential. Heathrow is London’s biggest airport, making it the lynchpin of its logistics landscape and it is growing fast. In December 2016, Heathrow’s air freight volumes increased by 5%, despite the fact that this is traditionally a slow month, reflecting rising industry confidence.

Rising volumes

Industry confidence in Heathrow’s air cargo prospects seems to be founded. Sector portal Air Cargo News reports that across 2016, Heathrow experienced a 3% climb in air freight volumes. This means that 1.54m tonnes were flown out of Heathrow across last year. This was attributed to its new services to Inverness, Santiago, San Jose and Jakarta, as well as to the £674m in investment it saw in 2016.

On the back of this progress, Heathrow’s earnings vaulted from £2.7bn in 2015, to £2.8n last year. What was interesting, was that Heathrow’s passenger volumes ticked up by 1% across 2016, meaning that a record 75.7m people walked its halls throughout last year. From this, we see that Heathrow’s growth in air cargo business actually outpaced its rise in passenger visits in the past 12 months.

Heathrow milestone

Speaking on these figures Heathrow’s Chief Executive called 2016 “a milestone for Heathrow.” He added that Whitehall’s decisions to finally announce its support for the long-proposed third Heathrow runway and unveil a four-month public consultation on a National Policy Statement has boosted the airport’s fortunes. Going on, he noted: “I am very proud of what our 76,000 colleagues have achieved. We helped British businesses across the country trade more with the rest of the world.”

Adding commentary Ignazio Coraci, the CEO of ASC Cargo, which runs freight and ground handling services for airlines at Heathrow, said: “We have seen more firms fly goods from and into Heathrow than ever in 2016, as the rising e-commerce sector makes it easier for consumers to order goods directly worldwide. We are proud to provide the cargo handling services, such as warehousing and direct transport airside, that players need to make the most of this thriving global commerce hub.”

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