North East England’s global connection

Singapore freight forwarders – Star Concord

Newcastle Airport, a key player in the passenger and air cargo market, is strategically situated in the North East of England, with limited catchment overlap with other major UK competing airports. 

With direct access to the A1 dual carriageway road, a vital transport route linking London and Edinburgh, and less than one hour away to the west coast and M6 motorway, the Airport’s location provides easy, non-congested, access from all directions, backed by a seamlessly integrated local transportation network.  

The hub’s 16 airline portfolio operates to over 80 direct destinations with significant onward global hub connectivity with up to 18 flights per day to major European and Middle Eastern hub airports.  Leading carriers connecting Newcastle Airport to the world include Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM, AEGEAN and Emirates, a daily 777 operation guaranteeing effortless global passenger and cargo connectivity. 

In the realm of cargo operations, Newcastle Airport’s focus is on key regions such as Asia-Pacific, North America, and the Middle East, along with industries like pharmaceuticals and automotive. The hub’s overarching objective is to mitigate risks and foster growth in strategically significant areas. 

By strategically collaborating with various transportation stakeholders, such as the nearby ports and logistics experts, Newcastle Airport optimises regional connectivity. This comprehensive approach not only bolsters trade and tourism but also drives economic growth in the North East.  

“The North East of England has a diversified, export-oriented and growing economy, underpinned by well-established international companies utilising Newcastle Airport’s network and connectivity,” Aileen Wallace, Newcastle Airport’s Cargo Business Development Manager, stated. 

“The region is home to Nissan’s car manufacturing plant, Europe’s first Hitachi Rail factory, Siemens and GlaxoSmithKline, plus over 67,000 other companies with global links and a high propensity to travel and export. 

“The North East is the leading region in England for wind, energy and oil sectors, but also specialises in other areas including digital, advanced manufacturing, life sciences and pharmaceuticals, with the pharmaceutical sector in the North East of England contributing to approximately 33 percent of the UK’s pharmaceutical GDP.   

Return and expansion

Newcastle Airport has seen the revival of passenger flights while simultaneously strengthening its cargo operations. Rather than waiting passively, the hub has taken proactive steps to drive progress. This has involved implementing a variety of strategies, including enhancing brand awareness, investing in infrastructure, improving operational efficiency, and ensuring seamless coordination between passenger and cargo services. 

“While larger airports pose formidable competition and excel in their operations, our smaller scale allows us to prioritise a customer-centric approach, ensuring that our services are customised to meet the specific needs of our clients,” Wallace highlighted.

The hub offers substantial growth potential for cargo on both existing and new airlines. Opportunities to expand our route portfolio are centred around the growing demand for pharmaceutical shipments, streamlining the transportation of auto parts, and fulfilling the rising need for just-in-time deliveries. 

To support this growth, Newcastle Airport is actively implementing strategies such as investing in infrastructure to improve cargo handling capabilities, enhancing brand awareness to attract more airlines and cargo operators, and forming collaborative partnerships to streamline operations and enhance services. 

The airport has appointed a Cargo Business Development Manager to drive these strategies forward, collaborate closely with airline and cargo partners, and continuously monitor market trends to inform decision-making and remain agile in response to changing conditions. 

“Newcastle Airport maintains its growth and competitive advantage by strategically focusing on enhancing its route portfolio whilst delivering excellent levels of operational efficiency and customer service,” Wallace explained.

“The expansion of the cargo industry at Newcastle Airport has been driven by several key factors. Our strategic geographic location positions us as a crucial gateway within a significant catchment area.

“Thriving economic activity across various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, automotive, and advanced manufacturing, generates substantial demand for air cargo services. With the rising export opportunities in the region, our goal is to enable access to international markets, consequently bolstering economic activity whilst unlocking further importing opportunities. 

“Newcastle Airport boasts specialised cargo handling capabilities, particularly in sectors like pharmaceuticals, automotive sector, oil & gas, and pet transportation, supported by expertise in ground handling agents (GHAs) and freight forwarders. Strong partnerships with airlines such as Emirates further contribute to this growth, providing competitive pricing, flexibility, and efficient handling.

“Our efficient processes ensure swift turnaround times, facilitating smooth operations, and our commitment to operational excellence is evident; we were continually in the top five in the UK for on-time performance (OTP) for 2023. But it’s not just about the bottom line – we’re also deeply committed to sustainability.   

Systems and sustainability

Newcastle International Airport is dedicated to continuously enhancing its cargo operations. The airport’s primary objectives involve expanding its cargo route portfolio and improving onsite services. The strategy involves thorough market analysis and customer feedback, along with forging strategic partnerships to solidify its position as a cargo hub. 

“Digitalisation has truly revolutionised air cargo, bringing about significant improvements in efficiency, accuracy, and customer satisfaction. Gone are the days of cumbersome paper-based systems – now, our ground handling agents and airlines are transitioning to digital platforms,” Wallace outlined.

 “Everything from handling records to cargo manifests are now managed electronically, streamlining our operations like never before.  Advanced digital tracking systems enable real-time monitoring of cargo, allowing us to provide timely updates to our customers. It’s incredible to see how technology has transformed the industry!”

 Expanding Newcastle Airport’s route network and airline portfolio is a key focus, particularly targeting opportunities in North America, its largest import and export market, whilst leveraging various transportation networks for seamless operations. Sustainability is a priority, with a commitment to achieving net-zero emissions and exploring the integration of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). 

 “We have committed to becoming a Net Zero Carbon Airport by the year 2035 and are working through an ambitious roadmap of projects to meet this goal. In 2023, the first phase of the Airport’s solar farm was launched; this can provide 100 percent of the Airport’s electricity requirements on a sunny day,” Wallace highlighted.

 “We are also investing in a new fleet of electric vehicles across the site and have planted thousands of trees on Airport owned land. Looking forward to 2024 and beyond, we are investing in more EV charging equipment for both passengers and staff and have plans to develop a rapid EV charging station in collaboration with Fastned, a leading electrical services company. 

 “We are committed to being a good neighbour and work closely with our airline and business partners to minimise our impact on the local communities and environments surrounding the Airport site.”  


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Author: Edward Hardy