The UK’s largest pure cargo airport had its busiest ever period in the run-up to Christmas, bosses have said.
In November, East Midlands Airport (EMA) processed its highest number of goods in a month at 41,613 tonnes, a 26.4% increase on last year.
Although the site also operates passenger flights, it handles freight separately – unlike some airports which combine travellers and cargo on planes.
With far fewer holiday flights due to Covid-19, pure cargo demand increased.
Stephen Harvey, head of cargo at the airport, said it was a “bright picture for the business”.
The previous busiest month was September, at 40,636 tonnes, while October was also up 11.8% on the previous year, with 38,979 tonnes of cargo being handled.
Mr Harvey said: “The pandemic has nudged people into doing more of their shopping online and especially in the run-up to Christmas.
“If the goods that are being ordered are stocked overseas, the chances are they will arrive into the UK through this airport. This is because EMA is home to the UK’s largest express air freight operation.”
Goods handled by the airport include electronic items, fitness equipment, clothes, and beauty products, as well as medical supplies, aero engines, legal documents and luxury cars.
Peter Bardens, vice president of UK Hubs DHL Express, said: “We’re seeing that volume, that demand really come through East Midlands Airport which is seeing us have to fly additional cargo aircraft both to Europe and the rest of the world.”
The airport said that the recent disruption at Dover due to the new coronavirus variant had little impact on the operation because companies at the site were already at full capacity.
Meanwhile, the nearby East Midlands Gateway hub, which opened in January, has so far transported 30,000 containers by rail – more than expected.
John Bailey, from Maritime, which runs the rail freight operation, said: “Through the summer we have slowly but surely built up and have seen a real surge of volume into the UK in the second half of the year.”