The UK government has completed its consultation on the aviation strategic plan for 2050; in the form of a whitepaper due to be released this year, this document will mark the end of a lengthy process that began earlier in 2017. As the country prepares to exit the EU in October, what have those involved suggested the plan should include?
Aviation must play a leading role
Key industry experts within the aviation industry such as Alex Veitch, head of multimodal policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA), have made their thoughts and opinions well known. Speaking to Air Cargo News he commented, “Airfreight currently represents around 40% by value of the UK’s imports and exports, and as the UK seeks to supplement European trading opportunities with economies further afield after Brexit, its importance will only increase.”.
With this in mind, it’s imperative for the UK government to carefully consider the importance of air cargo charter options when finalising the aviation strategic plan. Veitch continues, “Within its response, FTA has made clear its seven demands to government. Most importantly, FTA has requested a dedicated freight chapter in the White Paper; the government must set out a clear and ambitious vision for airfreight. After all, it will play a pivotal role in achieving Britain’s future trading aspirations post-Brexit.”.
Airports need better air freight opportunities
Not only have key players within the aviation industry spoken out – airports are making their thoughts known too. East Midlands Airport, part of the Manchester Airports Group, has stated it wants the government to set out clear and concise policies to solidify its position as a globally significant cargo hub. As the airport already handles 365,000 tonnes of cargo each year, amounting to £40bn of trade to and from the EU and £10bn from non-EU countries, it seems a viable option to allow airports such as these to be included within the aviation strategic plan for 2050.
A spokesperson for the Manchester Airport Group said “EMA believes that there is value in the Aviation Strategy setting out the airport’s national strategic role in meeting UK airfreight demand.”.
What are the next steps?
According to the existing documentation the new strategic plan will look to build a global and connected Britain, ensure aviation can grow sustainably, support general aviation and encourage innovation and new technology. Although these new strategic themes are a positive step within the aviation industry – and the government has stated it will work closely with those working within this profession – will air freight take on its important leading role, or will it be hidden in the wings and brushed aside until its too late?