The UK’s biggest air freight gateway Heathrow Airport Tuesday announced plans to “revolutionize” its cargo facilities and processes in a £180 million investment plan over 15 years that aims to double its cargo volumes. The long-awaited announcement appears to represent the first serious attempt in more than a decade to address the deficiencies within the cargo infrastructure at the world’s second-busiest international airport, which last year lost its top ranking to Dubai and continues to slip down the global top cargo airport rankings.
Heathrow said it had developed its vision to overhaul the cargo facilities after working closely with stakeholders including freight forwarders, exporters, government, and British businesses, forming an ambition to become one of the leading European airports for cargo. The blueprint, announced at the British Chambers of Commerce International Trade Conference in London, includes proposals to develop better infrastructure to reduce congestion and smoother processes, enabling freight to flow better through the airport and halving average processing times from 8-9 hours, to 4 hours.
In addition, freight forwarders using Heathrow will benefit from an air-to-air transit facility located on the airfield, which will enable smoother handling of transit cargo that arrives by air and is due to fly out by air. This will shorten average connection times from a current average of more than 6 hours, the airport said. It also includes plans to become 100% ‘e-Freight ready’ – working with businesses, airlines, IATA, HMRC and the DfT to fully implement e-Freight at Heathrow, making Heathrow one of the first airports to become 100% digital, the airport operator said.