A third runway at London Heathrow Airport is the only way to prevent a cargo capacity crisis, according to Larry Coyne, CEO of Coyne Airways.
In a speech last week in London, Coyne said U.K. logistics firms are vulnerable to losing out on business to companies in mainland Europe if the capacity crunch is not addressed.
His speech came in reaction to the push for an airport on Thames Island in London, a proposal that calls for a two-runway airport with rail and seaport links. A feasibility study of the project, which was initially proposed in 2008 by London Mayor Borris Johnson, is currently underway. As it's currently laid out, the plan would require London Heathrow to be converted into a business park to make the new airport economically viable.
Coyne brushed aside plans for the new development, calling it an economic drain on the United Kingdom, and recommitted his support for expanding the current facilities. Heathrow, he mentioned, processes 65 percent of the country's cargo activity, but is currently at 98-percent capacity.
Even if the new plan went through, he said, the airport wouldn't be ready by 2030, a point in time that would have disastrous results for Heathrow.
“A modest cargo growth of three percent per annum between now and then would mean a further 51 percent cargo capacity would be needed to cope," he said in his speech. “That happens to be the amount of extra capacity in flight terms that Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Madrid currently enjoy over Heathrow.”
Hong Kong International Airport is another port looking to a third runway to solve capacity problems. Though the Hong Kong development has been approved, getting there was a long process that involved considering several different scenarios. The addition now has the approval of the authorities, and a detailed environmental assessment is underway. The new addition is on track for an opening in 2023.
In an earlier interview with American Shipper
, Mark Whitehead of Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Ltd. talked about the cargo benefits of a third runway, foreshadowing Coyne's current beliefs about an additional runway in London.
"It’s very essential for cargo growth. In a two runway system, there comes a point when it’s saturated. Although most of the freighters take off at night … I think the lack of a third runway would put a cap on growth," he said.
"My feeling has always been that the airport would give more priority to passenger, and I think that without growth opportunities the hub status for cargo would be very much compromised. And it would be out of necessity to go to (other airports)," Whitehead continued. "It would be a very, very disappointing development if that were to happen." - Jon Ross