The air cargo community in the UK would be far better at influencing government aviation policy if it collaborated more closely, says Nick Platts, head of cargo, Heathrow Airport. “I think that a community speaking with one voice would be an enormous benefit to the UK,” he told the audience at the Future of UK Airports seminar at Multimodal 2016. “Unfortunately I can’t see it happening as no one talks to each other.”
He cited Schiphol as an example of a community that had worked together to transform itself into an ‘international benchmark’ airport. “It has got faults and problems, sure, but it is by far the best airport in Europe at influencing government policy.”
Alex Veitch, head of global policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), explained that the FTA has set up a dedicated Air Freight Working Group and was keen to see more action from industry and government to facilitate exports through the growth of airfreight. “We want to make the call to action more compelling.”
Larry Coyne, CEO of Coyne Airways Ltd, said his company no longer operated out of the UK as it was easier to operate out of Amsterdam. He rejected a suggestion that all cargo airports would be advantageous to operators like Coyne. “We are keen to see a balance of freighters and bellyhold cargo at an airport as that is how you get efficiency.”
For Neil Robinson of The Manchester Airports Group, which includes Manchester, East Midlands, Stansted and Bournemouth, it was important to look at short, medium and long term needs or the UK would lose out altogether.
“Mainland European airports are absorbing UK volumes, impacting on connectivity and reducing overall GVA performance.” He echoed Platts’ call for close collaboration. “We need all stakeholders to speak with one voice on policies such as the environment and noise control.”
Air Canada Cargo’s Mark Olney said the airline was investing in terminal facilities to improve efficiency and expansion would be welcomed at Heathrow, but “the most important thing is to get a decision, one way or another.”