The AMS air cargo community is keeping its fingers crossed over a modified version for a local rule that would be more beneficial to cargo flights. This is, however, not the only solution to deal with the slot scarcity on the airport, says specialised lawyer Frans Vreede.
The local rule would regulate the allocation of non-used slots, granting 25% of unused movements to cargo operators. The earlier version was rejected by the minister for Infrastructure Cora van
Nieuwenhuizen because different interpretations of the phrasing raised some fears that the additional flights would take AMS over its maximum of 500,000 flights allowed per year. She requested an
adaptation to avoid this.
CargoForwarder Global contacted the minister’s press department, asking for specifics standing in the modified version but did not receive an answer in due time.
According to sources within Amsterdam Airport’s Coordination Committee Netherlands (CNN), the airlines’ concertation body, the new version is not too different to the former one.
Fingers crossed for coming winter season
So it’s explicable that the cargo community remains very cautious in communicating. Through the grapevine CargoForwarder Global learned that the wording of the new proposal would meet Ms van Nieuwenhuizen’s request. “The older version was based on what was or was not actually flown,” says an unnamed source within the alliance of lobby groups.
The underlying problem is that the present legislation does not allow the minister to interfere in the slot allocation itself. The so-called “Slot Allocation Decree’ lays down the responsibility for the slot declaration with three parties: Schiphol Airport, the Air Traffic Control Body LVNL (Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland) and the airlines. Within the latter group, KLM has the loudest voice and by far the biggest influence.
New slot declaration system would allow ministerial intervention
In a recent article in Cargo Magazine, Frans Vreede Legal Consultant Aviation & Logistics Law, who has been monitoring the matter for some time, criticizes the fact that the parties concerned are making difficulties over this matter.
To CargoForwarder Global Mr Vreede points out that the introduction of a local rule in itself cannot be too much of a problem, as a comparable ruling has been in place at Heathrow Airport for years. “Provided that all the parties work together, instead of allowing self-interest to prevail.”
According to Mr Vreede the solution is in a new legislative proposal – not on a local rule - but on alterations in the Slot Allocation Decree. First of all, Schiphol Airport would be the sole assessor for the slot declaration.
Another novelty would be that the responsible minister would be given the power of giving a ‘binding directive’ to Schiphol Airport on how slots should be allocated. “This would allow the minister to give some priority to the cargo carriers in slot allocation. Given the enormous importance of the cargo business at Schiphol Airport for the Dutch economy as well as for employment, I cannot imagine that the government would accept anything that would hamper its further development,” Mr Vreede says.
Temporary local rule
As Mr Vreede thinks that the differences in interpretation in the local rule proposal mainly pertains to the passenger segment, he suggests a partial introduction of the local rule to allow slot prioritization for cargo operations. This is to be seen as a temporary measure until the adapted Slot Allocation Decree is implemented.
The cargo community appears to be quite optimistic on the eventual outcome of the concertation round on the latest local rule proposal. “Given our experience so far we hope to have the local rule in place before the start of the winter flight plan, which coincides with the start of winter time”, the source within the lobby group alliance admits.
Marcel Schoeters in Brussels