UK urged to increase night flights to speed up economic recovery

The British Shippers’ Council (BSC) has urged the UK government to expand the number of night flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted Airports as the UK economy continues to recover and freight volumes grow again.

The BSC, part of the Freight Transport Association (FTA), said that the move was necessary ‘to remain competitive in the global marketplace.’ The advice came after 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 said: ‘Not to do so would negatively affect use of the airports and damage the quality of the UK international supply chain.’

The statement added: ‘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.

Commenting on behalf of the British Shippers’ Council, the FTA’s Chris MacRae said: ‘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.’

The outlook for the British economy has improved by more than any other developed nation over the last six months, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in November. The international watchdog said that it expected the UK economy to grow by 2.4 percent in 2014, compared to 1.4 percent in 2013.