The Dutch government is considering a modest increase of aircraft movements at Schiphol Airport beyond 2020 as part of its updated aviation policy. Cargo carriers could benefit should more landing rights become available through a revised slot allocation system. But the new scheme, if implemented, is subject to conditions.
In its communication on the aviation policy the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management makes it clear that the proposed growth model is not self-evident. “Only after a demonstrable
reduction of nuisance to the residents will the national airport be given some extra space in return,” it reads.
Within the framework of the present aviation policy, agreed in 2008, the total number of aircraft movements at AMS is limited to 500,000 a year until 2020. Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen has made it clear to the ‘Tweede Kamer’ (the Parliament) that the present air space structure and the operational system are not capable to handle more than 540,000 movements.
Freeing up capacity at Schiphol
The issue was also one of the topics of a debate organised by Air Cargo Netherlands on 4 July. According to Maarten van der Scheer, Senior Advisor Stakeholder Strategic Development Schiphol Group, public support for the development of Schiphol Airport has been decreasing over the last 2 years.
“Especially between 2015 and 2018 the number of movements has made a great leap forward towards the cap of 500,000 movements per year cemented in the previous aviation policy. This is hard to adjust. We are full,” said Mr van der Scheer.
That means that a selective further development of Schiphol beyond 2020 must be monitored in relation to both Lelystad and Eindhoven Airport. According to the Ministry an upgraded Lelystad Airport is planned to open sometime in 2020. It would be used for short-haul leisure traffic and could free up some slots at Schiphol which then according to Mr van der Scheer “could be used for cargo flights.”
Missing out on the e-commerce aggregators
According to Mr van der Scheer the present ‘use them or lose them’ system for slot allocation at Schiphol does not fit well into the business model of some freight forwarders.
He also hinted at the fast-expanding e-commerce business which is increasingly relying on so-called ‘aggregator service platforms’ acting as an intermediary between consumers and vendors. These are creating cargo flows, mostly from China to some point in Europe.
They are very important for the cargo business of these airports, Mr van der Scheer said. “Without the additional cargo that these aggregators bring to Schiphol, there would be less freight to fill the bellies on long haul passenger flights as well as full freighters.”
New role for MAA?
Another scenario put forward by the Ministry of I&W is diverting some cargo traffic -including night flights- to Maastricht Aachen Airport, which was honoured by a visit of Ms van Nieuwenhuizen on 10 July. This scenario too has led to some agitation with residents, who also complain about nuisance caused by Liege Airport-bound aircraft flying over their homes.
The specialised trade paper Nieuwsblad Transport has quoted MAA’s Director Jos Roeven who asked the minister for a level playing field for MAA compared to the surrounding airports.
He clearly referred to the air cargo tax the Dutch government wants to impose, which would increase the airport fees for a B777-freighter at MAA “considerably” compared to LGG.
Another issue still hampering the further development of MAA is a former government decision limiting the use of the 2,750 m runway to 2,500 m.
Marcel Schoeters in Amsterdam
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