KLM Cargo Managers Move Back to the Roots

Erik Varwijk, Air France-KLM’s top cargo manager made a surprising announcement at the annual New Year party of the Air Cargo Netherlands held last week at Schiphol Airport.
KLM cargo will move its HQ back to its previous location at Schiphol-Central.
The exact date has not yet been revealed, but sources indicate that the move will be put in place by this year.

Back to the roots – KL Cargo will move to its former Station at Schiphol  /  company courtesy
Back to the roots – KL Cargo will move to its former Station at Schiphol / company courtesy

Is it just a matter of cost?
It is some years ago now that KL’s Cargo Executive Management which was at that time headed up by Camiel Eurlings, took the decision to move the management over to Schiphol East and into the Martinair Cargo building.
The move was seemingly taken due to the lack of space at the ageing KLM cargo facility at Central and the need at that time to plan for redevelopment of that area.
It’s no secret that Schiphol Airport Authority and KLM are presently in negotiation about knocking down part of the KL freight facility in order to accommodate another new passenger finger there.
There seems to be an agreement between both parties that KLM’s old Cargo Station 1 which was erected way back in 1967, will be demolished first as there is no further need for it.
Does KLM need then to look for alternative warehouse capacity?
Maybe not, considering their aim to radically reduce all freighter cargo capacity.
However, KLM also needs to have a modern and effective handling area for special products such as pharmaceuticals and express cargo in the future.

Advantages and disadvantages!
Mr Varwijk admits that the previous move to Schiphol East had disadvantages whereby the cargo management was totally separated from the operative side of the business.
But - is this also a further signal for a final separation from Martinair?
What will happen to the Martinair warehouse and offices once the carrier is forced to finally close the doors there?
One could assume that there are quite a few airlines that would be happy to move in there as tenants.

Which location makes sense?
In the meantime KLM’s cargo managers have looked at around nine alternative cargo handling locations and apparently have pinpointed two for their shortlist.
There is still the issue of a new cargo centre at Schiphol Airport. It has not yet been decided as to whether it will be built and as to where it can be located.
KLM would indeed prefer to have it in the vicinity of the passenger aircraft and combi-aircraft handling area.
There seems to be also a discussion as to whether KLM Cargo would or could move to a new area located at Schiphol South East. Mr Varwijk would not comment on this when questioned. He added that “for us it is important that we are located close to the existing aircraft operations at Schiphol Central.”
The manager stated that they except to reach a decision on this question by the end of this year.
Does the Dutch national carrier then really need to consider investing in an expensive cargo terminal considering their previously published plans?
And - the cost of course!

Varwijk will stay on board
The Dutch newspaper, Financieel Dagblad published information towards the end of 2014 that Erik Varwijk was possibly planning his exit from KLM.
At the ACN reception, Mr Varwijk made it clear that he has no plans to leave AF-KL’s Cargo Division. He stated that the rumours were nonsense and that apart from his present position as the cargo helmsman, he also has a four year contract as a Board Member of KLM. This contract expires however also in 2015.
Hopefully, Erik will stay on board to help steer the airline through these difficult times.

John Mc Donagh

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