Air, Freight News

Heathrow sees cargo surge

[ March 24, 2020   //   ]

Heathrow airport says its cargo movements are forecast to surge by 53%, compared to the weekly average, as the airport prioritises cargo flights with medical supplies in the fight against COVID-19. This figure is set to increase further as the airport scales up its cargo operation. Pharmaceutical products are already one of Heathrow’s top imports, with the airport handling 41% of the UK’s pharmaceutical imports (by value) in 2019.

It is calling on more airlines and freight companies to take advantage of the hub airport’s quieter schedule as passenger flights are cancelled.

Logistics companies have already begun importing key equipment such as testing kits.

During normal operations, Heathrow is the UK’s largest port by value. 34% of the country’s cargo travels through the airport, with the majority of that cargo (95%) being carried in the belly hold of passenger planes. Whilst passenger travel remains restricted for many, airports will continue to play a key role in keeping the UK’s supply chain alive, for both essential workers and goods. This is why Heathrow will be repurposing its operation and scaling up its cargo offering at this difficult time.

Heathrow is also taking a number of steps to assist the airline industry during this challenging time. These steps include supporting slot alleviation – a relaxation of the rules requiring airlines to use their slots to keep them, offering free parking to aircraft grounded as a result of COVID-19 and bringing forward growth incentive payments which have helped to increase cashflow for airlines during a challenging time for the sector.

Heathrow chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “This is an unprecedented time for the international community, with COVID-19 requiring us all to work together, adapt and adopt extraordinary measures to quell the spread of this virus. For the first time in a decade, our airport has additional capacity in its schedule, capacity which we’ve begun to see used to help push vital supplies across the globe to help support frontline teams in the battle against this pandemic.”