Spotlight on… James Golding, Head of Cargo, Heathrow

CargoForwarder Global’s ‘Spotlight On…’ series brings each of the many different functions involved in air cargo to the fore. Airports are at the heart of all aviation and are the ones who play a key role not only in creating the best environment for air cargo logistics, but also in educating the public as to its existence and all the positive initiatives being taken for a more sustainable future. Heathrow’s Head of Cargo, James Golding (JG), illustrates his responsibilities, views and experiences in this week’s Spotlight.

A little bit of magic, every day. Image: James Golding

CFG: What is your current function? And what are your responsibilities?

JG: I’m Head of Cargo at Heathrow, the UK’s largest port by value. I lead our team responsible for the development and deployment of Heathrow’s cargo strategy, oversight of our day-to-day cargo operation, relationships with our cargo community (everyone from airlines and handlers to forwarders and haulers), development of cargo infrastructure, and our relationship with UK Government stakeholders and trade associations. My team’s focus is on growing Heathrow’s cargo proposition, our tonnage and market share, whilst increasing efficiency and making Heathrow a better place to work and live near.

CFG: What does a normal day look like for you? Or is there such a thing?

JG: That’s the beauty about working at Heathrow – most colleagues will say there’s no such thing as a typical day. I spend a lot of time out and about in our cargo estate, speaking with partners, hosting workshops or project meetings. For example, we’re currently working with our community on designing a new approach to community engagement, with one of the first projects being focused on making our landside operation more efficient and sustainable.

CFG: How long have you been in the air cargo industry, and what brought you to it?

JG: I joined Heathrow 13 years ago, and moved into the cargo industry 4 years ago during the early months of the pandemic. At that time, cargo’s critical global importance had been heightened publicly more than it ever had before, and I was intrigued by the opportunity to make a difference to the aviation industry’s survival and the country’s needs during that period.

CFG: What do you enjoy most about your job?

JG: The cargo and broader logistics industry plays such a critical role in everyone’s lives but is often relatively less well understood by those outside the industry. I’m hugely motivated to share cargo’s importance with stakeholders in the broader aviation industry and with Government stakeholders, enabling us to make real improvements to the sector by implementing learning from other elements of aviation.

CFG: Where do you see the greatest challenges in our industry?

JG: Cargo must play its part in the pressing need to decarbonize the aviation industry. At Heathrow, we have a commitment to reach net zero by 2050 as part of our sustainability strategy, and shorter-term actions to reduce carbon on the ground across our airport by 45% by 2030. Our strategy sets out how we plan to work together with our airport partners to reduce the impact our operations have on the world around us and spread the benefits of aviation – such as maintaining critical global trade – as wide as possible. When talking with our partners and attending industry events it’s also very noticeable that the cargo industry is not nearly as diverse as it should be. I’m proud that our Cargo team at Heathrow is gender balanced, but there’s much more we can and should do to ensure true diversity of thought across the sector – and attracting new talent is critical to that.

CFG: What advice would you give to people looking to get into the air cargo industry? Any particular training they should aim for?

JG: Get involved in an aviation or cargo industry group. As an example, the Air League is the UK’s leading aviation and aerospace charity, aiming to inspire young people by awarding scholarships and work opportunities in aviation. Last year, in partnership with Worldwide Flight Services and Singapore Airlines Cargo, we hosted 11 young students and professionals, aiming to showcase Heathrow’s cargo operations and inspire the visitors to pursue a career within the air cargo industry. The event created connections that a number of the participants have used to broaden their career network.

CFG: If the air cargo industry were a film/book, what would its title be?

JG: The Harry Potter series comes to mind – because what we do in air cargo is a little bit of magic every day.Thank you, James, for sharing your views.


If you would like to share your personal air cargo story with our CargoForwarder Global readers, feel free to send your answers to the above questions to cargoforwarderglobal@kopfpilot.at We look forward to shining a spotlight on your job area, views, and experiences.

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