Despite being one off the world’s busiest airports, with annually increasing freight volumes, the Heathrow cargo area has been neglected for years and is now reaching crisis point, with congestion levels approaching total gridlock.
The Norman Global Logistics (NGL) air freight centre has been located just a few hundred yards from the Heathrow cargo village for more than 20 years, which has provided plenty of time to devise systems that have helped to deal with its inadequacies.
Running an NGL owned fleet of vehicles ensures that cargo can be picked up and delivered at the busiest times, when local hauliers are fully-booked.
With night shifts at the Heathow freight centre and on the NGL fleet, a constant flow of cargo into and out of the airport is maintained, which means that NGL customer cargo dwells at the airport for the shortest time, avoiding delays and rent charges.
Despite these best efforts even Norman Global Logistics have been impacted by the current congestion, which has been so severe that the Police have been closing off approaches to the cargo area.
NGL vehicles have been grid-locked in the Heathrow cargo area and have had to queue for hours while attempting to drop-off and collect cargo – often without success – resulting in waiting time and additional storage costs.
Heathrow has seen 20% year-on-year growth in tran-shipments, while October saw the airport’s busiest-ever month for cargo, with more than 150,000 tonnes passing through. Volumes were up 9.2% on September and are up more than 10% year-to-date.
NGL understand that the airport is exploring options to improve traffic flows and considering the deployment of traffic marshals every day over the next six weeks to help during the peak.
Throughout this period of unprecedented congestion NGL have been absorbing waiting time and additional storage costs. This policy may be reviewed, if the airport’s efforts fail to deliver any significant improvement.
The irony is that the current congestion is a direct result of changes implemented last month by the airport to minimise the impact of emissions caused by freight vehicles around the airport.
NGL have been in communication with the forwarding trade association, BIFA, who have been lobbying the airport and cargo village operators to take corrective action, but there is little expectation of any significant developments for some time.
The advice to NGL customers with airfreight shipment is to book and start a conversation at the earliest opportunity, so that NGL can ensure your shipments fly or get collected without delay or additional cost.
NGL offices in Manchester and Northampton (Birmingham) are on the company’s overnight trunking network, which provides efficient access to provincial airports for alternative services, at times of excessive demand like this.