“The Rumors are Nonsense!!” – But Varwijk Jumps Ship

CargoForwarder Global reported exclusively on 19th of January that Erik Varwijk, KLM’s cargo chief, was strongly rumoured as having decided to quit the company in the near future.

Eric Varwijk has quit AF-KL Cargo  /  company courtesy
Eric Varwijk has quit AF-KL Cargo / company courtesy

Erik, at the Air Cargo Netherlands reception held in Amsterdam, strongly denied this and was quoted as saying “that the rumours were total nonsense.”

Now - at the end of last week he announced his resignation from the Dutch national carrier, effective 1. March 2015.
If I was a KLM cargo employee, I’d now be seriously asking myself as to who I should believe within the organisation.
Varwijk has been with KLM for 25 years and normally one would not jump ship unless there was a good reason.
He is the last of a long list of KLM Cargo executives who having shown their displeasure at the way the company is apparently being handled and have decided to quit before it’s too late.

Dutch politicians remain surprisingly quiet
It is no secret that KLM is still struggling to get back into black figures. The internal discussions between them and their French counterparts at Air France are said to be more than frosty, to say the least.
There has been what one could consider as an exodus of top KL managers in the past twelve months.
However - one still hears nothing from the Dutch political side as to whether they actually support KLM as a national carrier.
There was information leaked from some sources that if KLM were really to go broke that there is either no plan or no insistence on their part to rescue it.
First Martinair and then KLM?
What an affront to the Dutch nation that would be!

Something drastic must have happened during the past days to force Mr Varwijk to get off the boat with a few weeks’ notice.
He did not inherit a thankful job when he took over the position.
In a statement Varwijk says “I have decided that I will not be available for reappointment at the end of my current term on 1. July. With the completion of the strategic reorientation of cargo, the time has come for something new.”

What completion of strategic reorientation?
The above statement may not be seen as quite real by the many KLM cargo staff who are still wondering what the heck is going on within the carrier.
Among others - there is still the discussion on the so called transfer of KLM monies from the carrier and its daughter companies to the coffers of Air France in Paris in order to somewhat dilute Air France losses.
This issue, after much pressure from within KLM, was taken up by the Dutch parliament and that at least forced a reaction from the AF-KL supervisory board in which they stated that the intention has been dropped.
For how long though?

Martinair’s Marcel de Nooijer might become new head of AF-KL Cargo
Martinair’s Marcel de Nooijer might become new head of AF-KL Cargo

KLM Cargo with nobody at the helm.
How then is it intended that the KLM cargo product continues?
Some are still insisting that Air France will also take over as the manager of KLM Cargo as well and they are of the opinion that this was the intention in the long run anyway.

Names are being dropped into the hat as to a possible internal replacement for Erik Varwijk. The exodus of past managers may lead other potential KLM (if there are any) cargo candidates to think twice.

One name though seems to come to the forefront.
Marcel de Nooijer, who is Martinair’s top man and at the same time EVP of KLM Cargo, is being slated as being Varwijk’s replacement.
Mr de Nooijer joined KLM in 1995 and was appointed as M.D. for Martinair in January 2013.
KLM is looking for someone to run down Martinair completely and try to finalize a deal with their pilots. In this respect, Marcel de Nooijer‘s name crops up.

The worst scenario now would be for de Nooijer to have to close up Martinair, of which he is head of and then possibly continue the rundown of the KLM cargo product and hand it over to one of his counterparts in Paris.

Nothing decided yet and the once proud Dutch carrier continues running around in circles.
Is it really not time to admit that the AF-KL marriage is at an end and seek a viable solution for KLM?
Just a question!

John Mc Donagh

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