Amsterdam Airport must create room for full freighters. The Dutch government is urged to endorse the importance of the air cargo industry more whole-heartedly. KLM should give up its paralyzing protectionist policy. The unholy trinity of KLM, Schiphol and the Dutch authorities needs revision. These were recurring issues and demands tabled during the Webinar organized by Dutch paper Nieuwsblad Transport to evaluate its annual IATA Top 100 results.
The IATA Top 100 ranks the export volumes of the air cargo forwarders at Schiphol, which performed well in 2019 with a volume loss of only 1%. NT’s air cargo writer John Versleijen, who
participated in the webinar, identified two trends in last year’s figures.
“First of all, the advance of Chinese wholesalers, buying opportunities for the likes of Alibaba at Schiphol. Most newcomers on the list have a Chinese background. TOP Cargo, ranking 23rd, is the most striking example.”
“The second trend is that the established network forwarders like Rhenus, Geodis, Fast Forward, Penske, Agility, Yusen, etc. have lost volumes at AMS, which may have leaked away to neighboring airports like Liege, Maastricht and Frankfurt, due to Schiphol’s slot problems.”
The latter should not go unnoticed, our distinguished colleague remarked: “The Chinese are bringing volumes to Schiphol and e-commerce triggers air cargo’s growth. Schiphol must be able to accommodate this.”
Amsterdam’s cargo role is underexposed
“For the large network forwarders, one should wonder if Schiphol’s hub function is still adequate enough to accommodate them. They can just as well take their business to Maastricht, Luxembourg, and Liege,” replied air cargo analyst John Klompers. “I am indeed worried, because the cargo role of Schiphol remains underexposed in Dutch politics.”
Providing capacity is one of the major issues of the post-Corona years, Mr Klompers added, especially as the grounding of passenger flights has smashed away 75% of that capacity. He saw a great responsibility for KLM in this respect. “If KLM is getting taxpayers’ money, it could re-pay that debt by providing the necessary air cargo capacity to the Dutch economy.”
Put an end to KLM’s domination
For the Dutch air cargo business to grow, there is no alternative to Schiphol, air cargo expert Paul Parramore agreed. “Thanks to Corona, the volumes at Maastricht Airport have recovered a bit, but what should have been done is allowing more freighter flights at Schiphol.”
According to Mr Parramore KLM dominates everything to such an extent that the airport can no longer grow in the cargo business. “The Port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe. Could you imagine them turning away foreign carriers?”
The unholy trinity of KLM, Schiphol and the Dutch authorities needs revision; a matter that should be steered by Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN), he concluded. “The slot limitation has already chased away AirBridgeCargo, which might never come back. For this, ACN should have fought on the barricades as early as that. It is up to them to engage in talks with the policy makers at The Hague.”
Shippers are heavily impacted by rates and loss of capacity
The shippers, too, support the concept of bringing more full freighters to Amsterdam. Rogier Spoel, Airfreight Advisor of the shippers’ organization evofenedex said that on the ground there is ample space to accommodate these parties.
At KLM, evofendex so far has not noticed any specific commitment towards the shippers, Mr Spoel admitted. “They should realize that they should have a decent fleet set-up of cargo and belly. Cargo should be given a clear function in their network capacity management.”
The sky-high rising rates have had a huge impact on the shippers, said Mr Spoel, “Especially shippers of perishables were hit, not only by the rates, but also by capacity shifting away from Latin-America and Africa, to markets offering more lucrative segments such as pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.”
An assessment of the near future was given by Floris de Haan, senior researcher air transport economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He identified four mechanisms that will have an impact on the Dutch air cargo market. “The buffer economy, building up strategic stocks, will have a negative impact as this will benefit sea freight.”
“Lower consumer spending will have consequences for the automotive and fashion industries.”
“Then there is the trend towards the restructuring of global supply chains closer to home and last but not least, the availability of slots.”
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