In June 2018, after years of delays and environmental protests, MPs voted to allow Heathrow’s management company to add a third runway to the UK’s main transport hub. This is good news for the industry - but what does it mean for the independent courier?
The short answer is, it means MPs have decided to support small business owners in a challenging time for haulage and logistics. Job opportunities, new chances to make connections and competition for new business are just a few of the potential benefits that this move guarantees.
Why the change?
The UK’s Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, called Heathrow “full”; for him, “a clear path to our future as a global nation in the post-Brexit world” was to increase our biggest airport’s capacity. Logistics jobs in Europe are inevitably going to be harder to find and more difficult to arrange if the UK leaves the EU Customs Union - but with government commitments to reach out further to the likes of China, India and South America (all of which entail a plane to get goods to us), working smarter can yield great dividends. On top of this, the shift in recent years towards an online business model has seen even the smallest producers establishing ecommerce solutions to get their goods where they need to go.
Despite the selling points, lobbyists (chief among them, former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson) and green campaigners held the plans up – which is understandable, as any increase in air traffic will also mean environmental impacts across the UK and further afield. But combined with many UK cities’ drives to increase air quality with Clean Air Zones, any increases in pollutant levels can be offset by cleaner cars and vans and smarter public transport. On balance, the benefits to business were seen as outweighing the negatives.
The increase in plane traffic will mean a help for small business owners and larger firms alike. Especially as we withdraw from direct exchange with the EU, we need new ways to connect with partners further afield.
As seen with recent negotiations around a US free trade deal, businesses in the wider world are keen to increase their connectedness with the UK to pick up any deficits we incur exporting goods after Brexit. To ensure these gains are made, though, the government has recognised that an efficient, cost-effective air network is a crucial piece of the puzzle – helping hauliers in the UK connect with the business that is assuredly out there. A logistics job in itself.
In the coming years, developing economies and traditional partners like America and those in the Commonwealth will become all the more important. And, with China’s increasing presence on the global stage showing no signs of slowing down, a fresh look at freight traffic by plane is one way that couriers can make this new landscape across the industry work for them.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching any kind of logistic job with an available driver or operator. Over 5,300 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.