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New report concludes UK’s international competitiveness is highly dependent upon express courier services

Speed and reliability are key requirements, and demand is growing, according to the report by York Aviation

A new report by leading airport consultancy York Aviation suggests that UK companies of all sizes and across multiple industry sectors are highly dependent upon the availability of a fast and reliable international express courier service.

Over 250 companies responded to the survey, commissioned by the Association of International Courier and Express Services (AICES), which also suggests that half of all respondents will increase their use of express services.

According to the report, the evidence strongly indicates there would be ‘real and long-term damage’ to the UK economy if express capacity was reduced.

Responding to these findings, Heathrow’s only on-airport express courier service, CFL, says it endorses the report and cites its own experience in the run up to Christmas, when import volumes were up by nearly one third compared to the previous year. The company highlights the growing importance of India as a source of express imports.

Matthew Ware, CEO at CFL, said “Express courier services contribute enormously to the UK’s international success. End customers and businesses demand fast delivery of everything from gifts to critical product components, and our industry has responded to this by creating a secure, resilient and efficient system.

“We recognise the findings of this important report and fully support its conclusions, especially around the need to increase capacity and ensure cargo slots are protected.”

When asked why express services were important to them, the respondents said: –

  • 89% speed of delivery
  • 73% tracking ability
  • 68% the need for guaranteed delivery
  • 63% company reputation (for timely and reliable delivery)

When asked why speed was important, 71% cited customer expectations.

Matthew Ware added, “We know customers expect really fast delivery, and that is unlikely to change. It is up to the industry to continuously innovate to ensure these demands can be met.”

The report includes case studies of companies in various sectors, including life sciences, engineering and automotive, and ranging from SMEs to multinationals. One of the companies interviewed for a case study put it bluntly; “Speed of delivery is how we win our business.”

AICES is the UK body for the express sector. Express operators provide fast, time-definite, door-to-door movement of shipments that are tracked and controlled throughout the journey. Each year, AICES members import and export over 250 million international shipments.

CFL was formed forty years ago as Heathrow became the world’s premier long-haul airport. The company is owned by some of the best-known names in the logistics and airlines business, including FedEx, DHL, Skynet and Virgin, and operates the UKs only dedicated multi-user express handling facility.

The growth of the on-board courier product, which allowed unaccompanied packages to travel in the hold as unaccompanied luggage, led to huge pressure on the passenger terminals.

As a result, Heathrow looked to move the courier product out of passenger terminals and the industry created CFL to manage this.