May 17, 2020

Aviation expansion is 'vital' to the economy, says FTA

Air freight
Airport Commission
Freddie Pierce
3 min
Air freight enables express delivery, which is vital to UK businesses
UK trade group the Freight Transport Association has released a statement highlighting the ‘vital importance of air freight to the UK economy. Ac...

UK trade group the Freight Transport Association has released a statement highlighting the ‘vital’ importance of air freight to the UK economy.

According to the statement, it is vital that the aviation sector is able to expand to meet demand from both passengers and freight. The FTA also highlighted the need for extra capacity ; either from new airport development or through the expansion of existing London airports.

In its submission to the Airports Commission's discussion paper 'Aviation Connectivity and the Economy', the association said that air freight is crucial to the UK economy because it provides a service which the rest of UK industry relies upon in order to be competitive in the global market. It is vital for the UK to maintain its place as a global centre of business, both for services and high end manufacturing, in order for the economy to thrive.

FTA also stated in its submission that amongst other uses, air freight allows the operation of express delivery services connecting businesses globally on a next day basis, a service required for the UK to maintain its place as a global centre of business – both for services and high end manufacturing.  Although the volume of freight travelling by air is very small when measured by weight – around 0.5%¹ of the total, it has a high value – about 40 per cent of the UK's extra-EU trade².

Heathrow is the most significant airport for freight in the UK – in fact it carries more freight each year than all other UK airports put together. It competes as a mixed use hub with the major continental alternatives – Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Madrid - but the lack of availability of slots at Heathrow is reducing the range of destinations served. As London’s main hub airport, Heathrow will continue to play a major role and FTA says it should be permitted to expand its existing operations, specifically through additional runway capacity, in order to meet existing and future demand from passengers and international trade.

Chris MacRae, FTA Policy Manager said:

"Air freight is of vital importance as it serves industries which are core to the UK’s economic future as a service economy. These include the major export industries such as electronics, telecoms, financial and business services. Air freight also serves industries where urgency is a key factor – pharmaceutical and biotech industries as well as food producers are heavy users of air freight, and UK manufacturing relies on air freight to import and export key components to keep factories working.

"The UK economy would benefit from an improved quality of global hub located in the UK. The greater the range of direct destinations, the easier it is to trade with other parts of the world. The UK’s international competitiveness is likely to be impaired unless current airport capacity is expanded to cater for growth in international trade"

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Jun 15, 2021

FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles

3 min
FedEx is expanding a trial of autonomous vehicles in its last-mile logistics process with partner Nuro, including multi-stop and appointment deliveries

FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics. 

The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener". 

FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road. 

“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”


The changing role of couriers 

Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time. 

But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse. 

“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”

Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds. 

Last mile's role in ESG

Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings. 

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