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Brexit has hit UK's position as a gateway to Europe for imports, say freight firms

By Euronews
British Airways passenger planes are pictured at the apron at Heathrow Airport as the UK government's 14-day quarantine for international arrivals starts on June 8, 2020.   -   Copyright  ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

Brexit has damaged the UK's position as a gateway to Europe for imported goods and increased red tape. 

That's the claim of air freight companies who say Britain's exit from the European Union has been compounded by the COVID pandemic. 

“It was just a perfect storm," Robert Larkin, director of Med Freight Services near London, a company providing air cargo transportation, told Euronews. 

"Everything got delayed, and then add Brexit onto the top of that as well, literally a complete nightmare.” 

His company is one of a dozen air freight logistics firms near Gatwick Airport. They rely on chartering flights at short notice, that hop between several countries to move goods around Europe, such as manufacturing parts for supply chains. 

But Brexit -- the effects of which kicked in at the start of the year -- is now slowing things down, with permits and permissions that are usually very slow to arrive.

The headache of added Brexit related paperwork goes hand in hand with anxieties connected to Britain being removed from the European equation.

“We, as Thatcher said, were the gateway to Europe, to get investment from Japan here: Honda, Nissan, whatever," said Jeffrey Ingarfield, director of Glenn Freight Services. "So once you’ve imported it [the goods], it’s then free to go anywhere." 

"There’s now no point. Unless it’s going to terminate in the UK, what’s the point in bringing it here? If it’s going to go into Europe, go to Paris or wherever it may be. And we are seeing that stuff that used to come here is just not coming here anymore,” he added.

New jobs are created specifically to help solve Brexit related problems.

But Brexit is no longer the only problem on the table, with the prices of imported goods skyrocketing due to the pandemic.

“For air freight, the prices have doubled or tripled in just getting stuff out the country. For sea freight, I’ve got a container coming in from China this month and it’s five times more than the rate was last year. It’s gone from 3,000 to 15,000 dollars. That’s going to hit the customer at some stage.” Larkin said.

The Department for Transport said it is “leading engagement” with EU member states “to ensure UK airlines can operate to and from the EU with minimum administrative requirements”.

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