Air freight must be prioritised in government's aviation strategy

Air freight will play a pivotal role in achieving Britain’s future trading ambitions post-Brexit, according to FTA, so it must be placed front and centre of the government’s aviation strategy. Responding to the consultation, Aviation 2050 — the future of UK aviation, FTA is calling for a dedicated freight chapter in the White Paper; the government must set out a clear and ambitious vision for air freight.

Alex Veitch, Head of Multimodal Policy at FTA, the business organisation representing the interests of the logistics sector, commented: “FTA is urging the government to dedicate a chapter of the White Paper to air freight; we need to see its ambition for the sector clearly, and understand how the various elements in the strategy will support the delivery of this vision. After all, air freight represents around 40% by value of the UK’s imports and exports and its importance will only increase as the UK looks to supplement European trading opportunities with economies further afield after Brexit.

“As the body representing the interests of the logistics industry, FTA would like to see the government adopt a more ambitious stance to grow global trade; for example, by liberalising visa requirements for travelling business passengers. And while a third runway at Heathrow Airport is an essential step forward, FTA also needs to see freight growth at all other UK airports, for example by providing clearer direction to planning authorities that they should support industry to make best use of capacity. Failure to provide suitable freight capabilities will only mean bleak prospects for British businesses seeking new global markets.”

Veitch continued: “Surface access is a significant barrier to growth; FTA is also calling for the government to commission a new Airport Connectivity Study to highlight where transport links and freight parking facilities need to be improved and set a programme for action. Security should also be a priority and policies consistently implemented across Whitehall departments. Digitalisation is also crucial and while government support for industry initiatives is welcome, government should also review where in the supply chain they require paper documents and move these to digital.

“Finally, FTA supports the ambition listed in the White Paper to improve air quality and tackle climate change, but we would like to see greater engagement with the industry to ensure the government is aware of the steps already being taken in these areas. And while the proposals on noise level reduction are a useful starting point for debate, we would like to see further evidence and impact assessments given the strategic importance of this sector to the UK economy.”

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