The Netherlands Airport Coordination (ACNL) department has not been having an easy time during the past twelve months. There was quite some unrest caused by the so called ‘slot implementation’ at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport whereby some cargo carriers saw themselves being unfairly treated by the Dutch authorities. The result was that many had to cut frequencies into SPL and even transfer flights to other European cities. Now it seems that another problem has cropped up for ACNL.
Kalitta Air files a complaint with USDOT
The Detroit, USA-based all cargo carrier Kalitta Air has seemingly had enough of the backwards and forwards discussions on slot allocations at SPL which they state are negatively affecting their business. Kalitta Air which operates a fleet of almost 40 freighters has been serving Amsterdam for many years and is angry about the fact that the ACNL allegedly claims that Kalitta Air had misused their slot allocation in the past. This allegation it seems was made by the ACNL back in 2017 when the slot discussion came into the open.
On January 29th Kalitta Air officially filed a complaint with the American DOT in which it requested that they look at imposing sanctions or other measures against Amsterdam Airport and the ACNL for having unlawfully withheld slots for Kalitta Air. The official complaint went on to state that Amsterdam Airport, which was once seen as being an open gateway, is now closing its doors to U.S. cargo airlines and that this practice is unlawful.
A strange situation as Kalitta Air which has been a household name at SPL for fifteen years or so, is basically the only U.S. cargo carrier operating regular services into the airport.
Slots reduced from four to two
The problem it seems is the fact that Kalitta Air has traditionally been allocated four slots into SPL, but for some considerable time has only operated two weekly flights between New York JFK and Amsterdam. Then in 2017 Holland’s ACNL started to insist on carriers actually using the slots allocated - or lose them. This is the now well-known 80/20 ‘use it or lose it’ policy which dictated that carriers must actually operate at least 80% of the allocated slots or face them being drastically reduced. This ruling was in line with Amsterdam’s restriction of only being able to allow a total of 500,000 operations each year and that this number was being exceeded.
Kalitta Air fought this ruling and although they’d only been allocated two weekly slots during the 2017/2018 winter season, they managed to increase this back to four weekly for the 2018 summer season. This was again reduced to two slots per week during the present winter season.
Who will win?
One can dispute whether Kalitta Air have in the past actually used the slots allocated to them or not. However, they also claim that their arguments fall on deaf ears at ACNL and that their feeling is that an unfair competitive treatment is being practiced by the Dutch authorities which is in their view in favour of the Dutch national carrier KLM and their cargo daughter Martinair Cargo. In other words - that it is violating the current EU-U.S. agreement on traffic rights.
Kalitta Air is asking the U.S.DOT to initiate sanctions against Dutch carriers in the hope that their old four weekly slot allocation be reinstated.
Whether they will have any luck with this, remains to be seen.
John Mc Donagh
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