Stalemate at AMS Over Cargo Slots Continues

For the upcoming summer flight period there will be no local rule for freight flights at Amsterdam Schiphol. The respective bill favouring a new slot allocation scheme was left undiscussed by the members of the Dutch “Tweede Kamer” (House of Representatives) during their latest general consultation at the end of January.

Dutch Transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen  -  courtesy Ministerie van Verkeer & Waterstaat
Dutch Transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen - courtesy Ministerie van Verkeer & Waterstaat

The consequence of the adjournment is bitter for the local air freight industry: Due to the Tweede Kamer’s hesitant position, it becomes highly unlikely that the new rule giving AMS green light for modifying slot allocations will be ready for implementation by the start of the summer flight season on 25 March, as requested by the interest groups.
Only recently, Evofenedex (shippers), Air Cargo Netherlands and Transport & Logistiek Nederland had urged Transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen to implement the rule before the date in question. They fear that the decrease of cargo flights will continue well into the autumn of 2018, leading to a lot of damage for the im- and exporters, employment in the air cargo industry and the establishment of businesses in the Netherlands.
The responsibility for the implementation lies with the independent slot coordinator, whose organisation is understaffed. The final draft of the rule must be worked out by a special working group within the Coordination Committee Netherlands (CCN), representing all the airlines at AMS.

Check against EU legislation
According to the logistics trade paper Nieuwsblad Transport the draft will be ready for dispatch to the minister at the end of February or the beginning of March. Ms van Nieuwenhuizen will then have to check the rule against European legislation, which will also take some time.

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An important issue to be resolved is the translation of the 25% contingent of unused slots, to be redistributed among the cargo carriers, into a workable system. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) suggests that the number of flights that have been cancelled over the last 5 years will be the base for the ruling.

Implementation at the start of the winter season
Of this yearly average, part of the slots will be kept in store to be distributed to the cargo carriers at the beginning of the winter and the summer season. This would allow the industry to take into account a number of additional slots in their planning.
NT’s contacts within the carriers have revealed that most of them are not necessarily unhappy with the delay in the local rule implementation. Most important is that the rule would be in place by the beginning of the winter season 2018/2019, so it seems.

Marcel Schoeters in Brussels

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