Shopping habits drive expansion at East Midlands Airport


Work to build more aircraft parking space to accommodate the cargo growth at East Midlands Airport is underway.

EMA Managing Director, Karen Smart, assesses the work underway to expand the east apron

As the UK’s premiere airport for dedicated cargo aircraft, EMA is improving its infrastructure so that aircraft can load and unload more efficiently at busy times.

Aircraft that serve, among others, the Fed Ex/TNT, UPS, Royal Mail and use the east apron, a large concrete area at the M1 end of the airfield. This is being widened to allow up to four more aircraft to be parked at any one time.

Also at the east side of the airport, UPS’s new facility is rapidly taking shape. The £114m development will double the size of their operation at EMA. 

The 10 percent year-on-year growth in cargo volume at EMA is being driven largely by people’s changing shopping habits. Cargo operators on-site that handle goods going to and from countries all over the world are primarily serving the express freight/next-day-delivery market. This is in response to more people shopping online ordering goods ranging from electronic items to clothes.

Karen Smart, EMA’s managing director, said: “A successful and growing economy leads to an increase in demand for air services, both passenger and cargo. As the UK’s second largest cargo airport after Heathrow and the UK’s No.1 for dedicated air cargo traffic, we are an important national asset. Each year an estimated £50bn of UK imports and exports are handled at EMA much of which is serviced by express operators who offer a ‘next-day’ service to destinations across the world. Because we make an important economic contribution to the UK, continued investment in our infrastructure is key to facilitate regional and national economic growth and the attractiveness of this region because of its global connectivity.”

The apron expansion work is being carried out by contractors Galliford Try who have also delivered many of the main infrastructure improvement projects at EMA, most notably the runway resurfacing project over two years ago and the central (Passenger) apron improvements carried out during spring and winter in 2018.

Colin Abbott, Aviation Director at Galliford Try, said: “We’re delighted to work with East Midlands Airport on this key expansion project and to be further strengthening the collaborative relationship we have fostered with them through the delivery of many successful projects at the airport.

“Galliford Try has considerable experience of working in complex airport environments across the UK and we’re looking forward to delivering the expansion of the cargo facilities in the coming months.”

Over 365,000 tonnes of goods fly in and out of EMA each year. When at its busiest, one million individual parcels and letters are handled at the airport each night. £10bn of goods fly to and from non-EU countries each year through EMA.