The British Shippers’ Council (BSC) has said it is vital that the UK retains the capability to expand the number of night flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports as the UK economy comes out of recession and freight volumes grow again. The BSC, part of the Freight Transport Association (FTA), stated this is necessary: “to remain competitive in the global marketplace,” following its recent meeting with the Department for Transport about its second stage consultation on night flying restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, which sets out proposals for the period from October 2014 to October 2017.
A BSC statement added: “Not to do so would negatively affect use of the airports and damage the quality of the UK international supply chain.”
BSC welcomed the consultation’s proposal that night flights should not be further restricted, but expressed disappointment that some flexibility around restriction deadlines to ensure essential flights get away, often resulting from delays caused by bad weather, is not included.
The BSC statement continued: “Unless there is flexibility this is likely to restrict potential air freight shipments, undermining the reliability and predictability of UK supply chains faced with fierce competition from continental competitors.
“Demand is driven by customers from across the UK economy, for example in pharmaceuticals and advanced manufacturing, and these companies need to move their time-critical or high-value goods quickly and efficiently.
FTA’s Chris MacRae commented on behalf of the British Shippers’ Council saying: “Night flights are an essential component in maintaining the UK’s international economic competitiveness. Operators don’t provide them by choice but driven by shipper demand, itself driven by end customer requirements. It is good news that the current regime is not proposed to be further restricted, but at the same time as the economy grows some easing of restrictions would be appropriate.”