The 2024 IPT Industry Visit Programme began with a cross-party delegation to London Heathrow Airport, in partnership with NATS, DHL, and the Airport Operators Association. Those in attendance were Iain Stewart MP, Rupa Huq MP, Steve Tuckwell MP, Ian Paisley MP, and Baroness Valentine.
We began in Terminal 5 where attendees got to tour the retail outlets and discuss the effects that changes to tax rules have had on footfall. We then moved airside taking a minibus to the control tower. During the journey Heathrow explained to parliamentarians about airside operations.
At the control tower, operated by NATS, attendees first went into one of their training rooms which houses a virtual control tower. Here they explained how air traffic control at the airport works, the busy nature of arrivals and departures, the effect that weather can have, and the plans for expansion with the effect that will have on air traffic control. A short lift ride took parliamentarians to the top of the tower where they got to see the views of an air traffic controller at Heathrow.
Back in the airport terminal, attendees got to hear about how they operate the border. They explained what the proposed changes are for the border and the role that AI will likely play in the future.
The visit concluded with a presentation from DHL about their cargo operations at the airport. They explained to attendees how they operate at the airport, the network that DHL have throughout the world with hubs in Europe, Asia, and North America. The presentation explained the different stages of cargo being transported internationally by air from seller to buyer, the importance they play in supply chains, and how they also use the luggage belly of commercial aircraft to transport cargo when necessary.
We would like to thank Heathrow for hosting the visit, and to NATS, DHL, and AOA for their involvement and thank you to all the parliamentarians who were present on the visit.