LONDON – Not all airports are created equal, and not all that serve popular holiday destinations turn out to be the success that was expected. Bournemouth has been a UK holidaymakers’ paradise for many decades.
It was only a few hours away from London and very well connected to the rest of the UK; there was no doubt that its sandy beaches, clean air, and fresh seafood would attract hundreds of thousands a year.
Bournemouth is also home to Dorset’s countryside and New Forest National Park. However, Bournemouth international isn’t exactly Palma de Mallorca, and its airport lacks somewhat lacks the Mediterranean feel.
Despite it not being a tropical retreat, there was one kind of customer that the airport had difficulty attracting, cargo airlines.
However, rumor has it that that change is in the air at the Dorset Airport, which plans to reposition its significant cargo hub newly.
A recent discussion with Rob Johnson, the airport’s cargo manager, reveals that Bournemouth Airport has some highly prized tricks ups its sleeves that more significant supply chain centers like Heathrow can only wish to have.
But unfortunately, the airport did not use these assets to its advantage until now. “But times are changing,” added Mr Johnson.
Bournemouth has no congestion in the air or in the ground. There are twenty-four hours of friendly and reliable service with no noise limitation for nocturnal operations.
This is offered relatively low handling costs than more prominent hubs made available by it’s Cargo First initiative which will hopefully place the Dorset Airport on the cargo map.
With Cargo First, the leadership team has laid out an ambitious freighter hub development plan for Bournemouth. This will include a multi-million-pound investment in substantial new infrastructure.
The new program, Cargo First, aims to position Bournemouth as the uncongested alternative to London’s overstretched Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
According to the latest statistics, Bournemouth is the UK’s fastest-growing cargo hub, having expanded from virtually no cargo in April 2020 to 20,000 tonnes by the end of March this year.
The airport played a fundamental role in fighting the surge of covid-related cargo shipments, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID19-testing kits during the pandemic, transforming itself into one of the UK’s busiest cargo airports.
“With the entry to the all-cargo market of resident carrier European Cargo, we recognized the opportunity to start up a new trade lane and facilitate exports from the UK to the USA, as well as supporting the temporary demand for PPE and test kits,” says Bell, RCA’s chief executive officer.
Johnson also points to the fact that the regional hub is extremely well connected to London by road, allowing it to position itself further strategically –” which means we can have consignments in the market faster than through [congested] hub airports.
Additionally, our unique One Team approach means our customers don’t have to deal with multiple vendors, giving them greater simplicity, efficiency, and speed-to-market,” ass Johnson.
The airport is ready to welcome the big players. It currently has two transit sheds of 20,000 and 30,000 sq. feet and another five times on standby, ready to be activated.
Soon, Johnson visualizes wide-body freighter movement as the airport’s leading source of revenue.
“We’ve already added nearly 100 jobs, and there is potential to create hundreds more over the next five years,” managing director Steve Gill adds.
The expansion plan aims to attract new operators, including airlines, forwarders, logistics, and e-commerce companies, Gill states.
However, the airport is surrounded by a protected environmental landscape; however, the new developments will utilize only the current airport grounds.
The airport is already a hub for a small and less knows cargo carrier called European Cargo. It has based on a fleet of part-converted A340s.
However, the airport is in discussion to attract niece cargo carriers to develop an e-commerce transit hub.
Bournemouth’s other strength is that it can offer bespoke features such as ‘truck-to-tail’ services – direct tarmac transfers between bonded trucks and aircraft – which suits urgent and sensitive cargoes.