Call for ‘Open Skies’ at Schiphol Airport Dominates Air Cargo Debate

The protected status of KLM Cargo was severely questioned at the 3rd National Air cargo debate organized by the Dutch trade paper Nieuwsblad Transport in Lelystad.

The protectionist attitude around KLM jeopardizes Schiphol’s role as Europe’s third largest air cargo hub, criticize more and more managers  -  picture ms
The protectionist attitude around KLM jeopardizes Schiphol’s role as Europe’s third largest air cargo hub, criticize more and more managers - picture ms

According to the paper’s own report, the decision to dispose of Martinair’s freighter fleet means that the interests of the Dutch national carrier are no longer synchronous with the air cargo industries. “Given the fact that 80% of the KLM shares are owned by Air France, the government’s emotion on KLM is hard to understand,” said John Klompers, who is responsible for Damco’s global air and sea business. Supported by Kales Airline Services’ CEO Peter Kales he pointed out that Schiphol is heavily dependent on transit trade. The protectionist attitude around KLM jeopardizes Schiphol’s role as Europe’s third air cargo hub, he said.

Steven Verhagen, the chairman of the Dutch pilots union VNV, and a long-time advocate for the preservation of the Martinair freighters, took a similar view. “If open skies should be adopted for Schiphol, they should not only be open, but also fair”, he said. He called the decision to downsize the Martinair freighter fleet ‘unwise and short-sighted’.

Schiphol will lose 16% of its all-cargo flights
Follow-up research by SEO-Research, a spin-off of the University of Amsterdam, has revealed that it will cost Schiphol 13% of its total number of freighter flights in 2016. Researcher Thijs Bonenkamp remarked that this loss cannot be made up by belly capacity, as the Martinair MD-11s would fly to destinations that are not served by passenger aircraft.

AirBridgeCargo’s marketing manager Robert van de Weg said that the greater part of the freight forwarding market will be served by airlines that are now investing in new cargo aircraft. “Since KLM has decided not to do so, the marketing position of Schiphol must be reconsidered, either by bringing in more foreign carriers or by allowing Dutch entrepreneurs to set up a new Dutch all-cargo carrier as replacement for Martinair. KLM should not be allowed to veto this.”

Jeroen de Veth of the Dutch shipper’s organisation EVO expressed the hope that in the future the interests of KLM would be disconnected from the interests of the air cargo industry. MP Jacques Monasch (socialist party PvdA), seemed to agree.

The competitive position of the airport itself, was another topic for discussion. Office space prices are considerably higher than abroad, said Martijn van Helvert, MP for the Christian Democrats (CDA). The logistics manager of Hewlett-Packard criticized both KLM Cargo and Schiphol Cargo for not attending the event.

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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