Martinair Cargo to Scale Down its Fleet

The Dutch cargo carrier has to dispose of five MD-11 freighters, but will keep operating three Amsterdam-based Boeing 747ERFs. Along with the fleet reduction the intercontinental network will be aligned during the next two years depending on demand.

Will soon be phased out – one of Martinair Cargo’s five MD-11Fs  /  source: MP
Will soon be phased out – one of Martinair Cargo’s five MD-11Fs / source: MP

Today’s (4 September) AF-KL-MP organized press meeting at KLM’s Alstelveen-based headquarters near Schiphol Airport must have been one of the shortest in the recent history of the Franco-Dutch airline, lasting no longer than 20 minutes. However, the time did suffice AF-KL-Martinair Cargo’s Helmsman Eric Varwijk and his management team to display the future role of Martinair Cargo within the AF-KL-MP Group.

Battered by continuous financial losses something fundamental had to be done to bring the cargo division back into the black again, illustrated the managers.  Accordingly, all options had been tabled internally, assured Eric, including the complete closure of Martinair Cargo. These fears, however, proved to be unfounded as is now understood.
That’s the good news many, particularly the employees, had hoped to hear.


Is the decision the lesser of two evils?
But the price Martinair has to pay for the financial recovery of the Group is high. Their eight units comprising freighter fleet will be reduced to three and part of the global network will be evaporated. Only those routes that necessarily require main deck capacity are excluded from deletions.
The five MD-11 freighters will be phased out progressively, beginning soon and ending sometime in 2016. All affected staff is offered alternative jobs within the group, including transfers to the low cost offspring Transavia, assures the management. This step was taken by common consent between the AF-KL-MP Management and the trade unions that were involved in the discussions at a very early stage, emphasized the cargo executives.  

AF-KL-MP’s Cargo Chief Eric Varwijk / source: HS
AF-KL-MP’s Cargo Chief Eric Varwijk / source: HS

They also said that the two Boeing Triple Seven freighters Air France Cargo is operating are not affected by the changes. Both aircraft will continue to be based in Paris CDG and be deployed on high volume routes.


Out of the red by 2016
Today’s announcement doesn’t really come as surprise. Since long it was clear that something had to be done to better the abysmal cargo figures. Sacrificing five MD-11s seems to be radical at first sight, but it seems to be the much better option to close the entire shop. “Our re-dimensioning of the freighter fleet is in line with market demand,” argues cargo speaker Jean-Claude Raynaud. “The new wide-body passenger aircraft in our fleet offer sufficient lower deck space to compensate for the loss of these freighters,” he adds.

AF-KL-MP Cargo predicts that the loss making times will end in 2016 latest. “Maybe we achieve a small profit already next year,” hopes Jean-Claude.

Heiner Siegmund

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