All’s Well That Ends Well in AMS

Happy days again at Schiphol Airport thanks to the proposal for a local freighter-friendly slot allocation rule. Some flights that had been diverted to Brussels had already returned before the decision was announced.

Most cargo airlines who lost their slots at AMS are expected to return to the Dutch airport as result of a freighter friendly slot allocation decision  -  photo: hs
Most cargo airlines who lost their slots at AMS are expected to return to the Dutch airport as result of a freighter friendly slot allocation decision - photo: hs

“The local rule proposed by KLM implies a fairer way to obtain historic rights for full freighters. At ACN, we’re happy as well,” says Ben Radstaak, managing director of Air Cargo Netherlands.
The airlines represented at the Coordination Committee had to vote on two proposals, one by Schiphol Group and one by KLM. Eventually only the KLM proposal was put to the vote, since it was more detailed. Historic rights and slot optimisation are central in this proposal. Non-flown slots, e.g. due to bad weather conditions, are to be allocated preferably to freighter operations.

AMS volume loss limited
The slot scarcity problem cost AMS a loss of volume between 6 and 8% last October, but in November the decrease was only 1%. This was due to the fact that a few additional slots had been allocated to freighter operators after all, a better load factor on existing flights and the upward trend in the market.
The problems in Schiphol set in motion a game of musical chairs involving neighbouring airports like Brussels, Liege and Hahn. Eventually it even trickled down to Ostend Airport, which had to accommodate ad-hoc flights of Magma Aviation which could not be handled at LGG due to the extra volume of AirBridgeCargo.

Positive effect on Brussels Airport
For Brussels Airport the additional cargo may have contributed to the year-on-year volume growth of 9.4% last November, whereas October and September had shown a decrease of 3.4 and 1.1% respectively. Even including the ‘AMS tonnes’, full freighter cargo at BRU still fell by 3.5%. The gains can be attributed mainly to the rise in belly cargo (+30%) and integrator volume (+8.9%). Over the first 11 months of 2017 BRU’s tonnage grew by 9.5% to 487,354 tonnes.


It is to be expected that the introduction of the local rule will lead to a come-back of airlines that have switched their flights to BRU. As a matter of fact one of the two SIA Cargo flights that had been moved to BRU, has already gone back to Schiphol, says Head of Cargo Steven Polmans. “We were glad to be able to accommodate carriers that were looking for alternatives for their AMS operation, but we have always realised that this would be a temporary situation until the slot problems at AMS had been solved.” Liege, which was able to gain some AirBridgeCargo volume has not yet commented on the new situation.

Maastricht wins Emirates freighters
Over the next 6 weeks the local rule proposal will be worked out in more detail and then passed on to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. No opposition is to be expected at that end of the decision making process. The message on the importance of Schiphol and the air cargo industry for the Dutch economy is apparently being taken very seriously by the new government.
Only recently, the Ministry lifted a ban prohibiting the full-length use of Maastricht Aachen Airport’s runway. This will allow the airport to accommodate larger sized aircraft or with higher payloads. This may have triggered Emirates SkyCargo’s decision to introduce three weekly flights from MAA to Dubai this February. As from March the service will be expanded to seven per week.

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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