Practically every organisation relies on fast and efficient transportation of goods, components and documents in order to ensure their commercial competitiveness and success.
The express industry specialises in time-definite, reliable transportation services for documents, parcels and freight. It has allowed British business to rely on predictable, expeditious delivery of supplies, thereby enabling them to attain and maintain global competitiveness.
This usually requires goods to be picked up at the end of the working day for delivery early the following day. The only way to achieve such a delivery schedule is by the operation of aircraft outside of normal business hours, including those defined as night, between 11pm and 6am. Night flights are only used when no other alternatives are available.
Typically, the types of goods transported by express services are high-value items such as electronic components, automotive spares, product samples and pharmaceutical products. With e-commerce becoming a major driver for the UK economy, the express industry will play an increasingly important role in the supply chain ensuring business efficiency and consumer satisfaction. The ability to fly at night is therefore particularly important for express operators to meet the “next day” needs of customers.
Striking a balance
AICES members accept that aircraft operating at night may be perceived by communities close to airports as a disturbance and nuisance. The express courier industry takes this issue of noise extremely seriously. AICES members have taken numerous voluntary initiatives to reduce the impact of night operations as much as possible. These include, investment in new aircraft; the adaptation of operational and flight procedures to minimise noise impact and, wherever possible, diverting the transport of shipments from air to road.
As the Government recognised in its aviation white paper, the demand for express industry services is growing. A balanced approach must therefore be struck between providing businesses with vital modern transportation and logistics and the needs of the communities living nearby airports.
Failure to find a balance could result in severe consequences. If restrictions or even bans on night flights are imposed, carriers may be forced to move to more favourable locations within the European Union. With them will go considerable national and local economic benefits.
The loss of a next day delivery service would damage UK business considerbaly, particularly the hard pressed manufacturing sector. In a recent CBI and Oxford Economic Forecasting survey, over 90% of firms in the computer and office equipment, electrical engineering, motor vehicles, printing & publishing and precision & optical instruments sectors reported that they would be very badly affected by the cessation of nightflights and next day delivery services.
Achieving a balance
The express industry welcomed the "balanced approach" on aviation noise, agreed in October 2001 at the International Civil Aviation Organisation General Assembly and implemented by EU Directive 2002/30/EC on the establishment on rules and procedures with regard to the introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at Community Airports.
The "balanced approach", if effectively implemented by Member States, should provide legal certainty to the express industry whilst at the same time ensure a reduction in the number of people affected by noise.
AICES supports and advocates sensible noise regulation, but believes that such regulation is best achieved within an international framework. AICES is of the opinion that ICAO is the most appropriate organisation responsible for managing the environmental effects of the global aviation system.
The demand for express delivery services is growing. We are proud of our contribution to the UK economy – local and national – and the efforts we have made to adapt our operations to address environmental concerns. We look forward to working with decision makers at all levels to ensure we are able to do so in the future.