It’s All Over Now

It looks as if this will be our final chapter on the story of Martinair’s future.
The events of the past days finally show that the Air France - KLM management has no intention of reconsidering their plans to demolish Holland’s once proud second national airline.

Will soon be history – one of Martinair’s MD-11F  /  company courtesy
Will soon be history – one of Martinair’s MD-11F / company courtesy

The above was apparent after Martinair’s CEO, Marcel de Nooijer and COO, Rene de Groot turned up over a half-an-hour late at a scheduled press conference.
They had spent their time beforehand trying to explain to MP’s staff why the Franco-Dutch carrier is accelerating the phase out of the company’s MD-11 freighters and eliminating 330 jobs.
Marcel de Nooijer is quoted at the press conference as having said: something along the lines of “It is a painful and tedious decision, which obviously raised many questions from the staff.”

Market overcapacity as the reason
It’s been on the cards for some time now that AF-KL were to scale down their freighter fleet because of losses in the freight sector which many say come mostly out of the French carrier’s market sector.

At the press conference on 16 March it was stated that the acceleration of the fleet’s dismantling was due to high substantial overcapacity in the market, especially with the advent of much cheaper operating Asian carriers coupled with continuing losses.

Our information is that the Asian carriers have been on the market for many years already.
Is it then just now that AF-KL managers realize this?
Whatever they told the Martinair staff probably was met with disbelief.

End of the story is that the MD-11Fs will all be gone by June next year instead of earliest December of 2016, as previously announced by the AF-KL management.
Of course! - the phasing out aircraft which are not up-to-date and which can be replaced by newer and more economic aircraft - is nothing new.
However, we wonder what Mr de Nooijer meant when he said that “in 2014 there was a €72 million cargo loss, which represents €8 million per (each MD-11) aircraft.”

Is he saying that it’s now the fault of the MD-11 fleet that AF-KL Cargo is not on top of things?

Anyway – it’s over!
The decision is probably not reversible and it means that 330 employees, of whom 110 are pilots will be out of work.
The remaining 220 staff are full-time ground staff of which 170 are in the Netherlands and the remaining 50 are staff-based abroad.
In the meantime, however, the Martinair Workers Council has protested against the decision in the Dutch courts. Whether this will do any good remains to be seen.

Martinair pilots it seems will not have much chance of getting similar positions within KLM. The pilots union, VNV is convinced that MP pilots would disrupt the career ladder of KL pilots if taken on.
Happy family!

Money seems to be no problem.
The Martinair pilots collective working agreement stipulates that they are entitled to two years salary in the event they are made redundant.
So - at an average of Euro 220.000 annual income per pilot plus a few extras, that leaves a bill of more than Euros 55 million which has to be paid out.

Workers Council has no further hopes
Both the MP and KL workers councils had been working on a plan to salvage the carrier and had hoped this would convince the Air France - KLM top men.
Mr de Nooijer is quoted as saying: “Various scenarios were investigated but were not sufficient to reduce operating losses.”
Who’s operating losses are meant here?

There were surely other behind the scenes efforts to try and salvage Martinair Cargo which in the past had proven to be a flexible and money bringing carrier.
We would assume that these are also now off the table.

Delighted ‘enemies’
We suppose the $20.000 dollar question is whether Air France - KLM Cargo will ever get back into black figures after having dismantled Martinair and if they will ever again be a top air cargo player?
They will still operate a joint fleet of four B747 freighters along with the KLM 747-Combis.
The latter however are also slated for gradual phasing out.
The so called enemy - the Asian carriers - will surely be more than delighted.

John Mc Donagh

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