Government urged to unlock East Midlands Airport's potential


East Midlands Airport, as part of MAG's (Manchester Airports Group's) response to the government’s Aviation 2050 Green Paper consultation, is calling on the government to help unlock its potential by clearly setting out policies to solidify the airport’s position as a globally significant cargo hub.


The consultation response (which closed on 20 June), has included several ‘asks’ of Government that would commit it to formally recognising East Midlands Airport’s (EMA) important national and regional role.

As well as being a short-haul gateway for leisure travel, EMA (which is owned by MAG) is also the UK’s most important airport for dedicated cargo flights. It handles 1000 tonnes a day and facilitates approximately £40bn of trade to and from the EU and £10bn of non-EU imports and exports a year.

The next 10 years, ahead of the opening of the planned new runway at Heathrow, and beyond to 2050 are critical for EMA as it prepares to meet increased air freight demand.

While the government’s Green Paper alludes to the vital role of airfreight to the UK economy (contributing around £2.3bn a year to UK Plc), there is very little in way of specific policy which is needed if EMA is going to prosper in the future.

EMA believes that there is value in the Aviation Strategy setting out the airport’s national strategic role in meeting UK air freight demand.

The specific 'asks' in the consultation response calls on the government to:

  • work with EMA as the government promotes digitisation to speed up the handling of goods at the border, which is key for time-critical air freight
  • help airports like EMA to unlock new international trade routes
  • commit to fully exploring the potential for a Free Trade Zone around the airport
  • formally acknowledge the airport’s strategically important role in the continued growth of the regional and national economy
  • ensure a more joined-up approach to planning, making sure that airport, road and railway investment is considered alongside the needs for more housing, industrial development and future energy provision.

Karen Smart, EMA’s Managing Director, says: “In the coming months I want to work with government to develop specific policies that could unlock the growth potential of EMA as a nationally important asset for the UK and its ability to trade globally. This would enable Government to take a much more active role in supporting the future sustainable development of air freight, in line with the Aviation Strategy’s overall goal. Direct Government support for EMA will also be a sign of Government commitment to the region and will signal recognition for the critical role the East Midlands can play in rebalancing the UK economy if it is enabled to reach its full potential.”

The government’s consultation on its Aviation Green Paper closed on 20 June. A final white paper version of the aviation strategy will be published later in 2019.