KL-AF Loses Further Market Share While Rumors Persist on Additional Martinair Cuts

It’s been somewhat of a tough year all round for the airfreight industry, but seemingly tougher for the Franco-Dutch airline, Air France, KLM, Martinair. And things at AFKLMP Cargo don’t seem to improve.

Photos by company courtesy
Photos by company courtesy

The freight production of the three carriers dropped a further 4.2% during the last month of 2014 and capacity was said to have dropped a further 1% during December.

Capacity cuts didn’t turn things to the better
It is sad to note that the average load factor dropped a further 2.1% down to 63.3%. This despite continued capacity cuts throughout the year.
It seems that when one looks especially at the last quarter results, that AF-KL-MP did not benefit at all from the traditional Christmas peak season.

The three carriers which in essence are seen as being one of the largest airfreight airlines operating, did not get itself together again in 2014 in order to present acceptable results.
Revenues per ton-kilometer fell by 2.4% whilst the actual capacity offered on the market dropped by a total of 2.3%. The 2014 load factor remained almost at the same level as 2013 when there was more cargo capacity in their fleets.

Market observers continue to scratch their heads as to what cargo policy the French-Dutch airline really wants to follow.
Many have concluded that 2014 was a lost year on the cargo side whereas passenger results may show them as having fared better.

Air France-KLM Cargo, which includes Martinair Cargo, lost heavily on the Asian market segment with 5% less tonnage. Africa & Middle East followed with 2.5% less whereas North America remained somewhat stable with less than a 1% drop in tonnage.
The traditional KLM Caribbean sectors did not escape either. They showed a drop in tons carried of 1.5%.

What will results look like once the MP fleet is gone?
This question has been on many people’s lips for some months and rose to the surface again last week as information published in the Dutch press show that KLM is possibly planning even more cuts at its freight daughter, Martinair.

Cuts in the Martinair fleet had already been made public by KLM last year. A phase out of the MP MD-11 freighters was decided along with cutting the complete freighter fleet down to three units from the present nine aircraft.
This would leave them with three Boeing 747-400 ERFs and possibly a 25 year old B747-400BCF as a backup aircraft in case one or the other ERFs could not be used due to technical problems.
The phasing out of the MD-11Fs was meant to start this year with two units being taken out. It is now not clear as to whether the KLM management has decided to speed up this process by taking out the remaining MD-11Fs also this year instead of in 2016.

MP pilots are facing uncertain future
Martinair’s pilots union continues to try and get some reaction from the KL top management as to their future. There are 175 pilots who it seems still have no information or offer on hand from KLM as to how or if they will be employed in the future. Some say that the management is hoping that the problem will solve itself by MP pilots applying for jobs elsewhere.
The Dutch airfreight sector continues to remain critical of the decision on cutting capacity from the national carrier at the home base in Amsterdam.

Could CV be a paragon?
A onetime top manager at Martinair is quoted last week as having said that there is still enough space and business at Schiphol to accommodate a profitable Dutch cargo airline. However, he states further, the present situation has to be looked at properly by all concerned and that includes the Dutch government. In this respect he refers to the example set by the Luxembourg government in supporting Cargolux in very tough times and when Qatar Airways dropped their shareholding.

Is it too late for this in AMS?
Probably so as there has been no sign of support from Dutch officials and many are asking as to whether the decision to cut freight capacity does not lie in the hands of the KLM management at all, but more than likely in Paris.
KLM still has a large and the world’s only Boeing 747-Combi fleet and have recently stepped up frequencies with these aircraft into Dubai.
But - these aircraft have been plodding on for many years and are gradually nearing their natural phase out days.
What then?

John Mc Donagh

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