For Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, 2021 brought a 15.8% rise in cargo volumes. Judging by remarks made during the group’s annual press conference on 18FEB22, the prospects seem reassuring for freighter operators.
Last year, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport clocked out at a cargo volume of 16.7 million tons. Of the airport’s 267,000 flights (vs. 227,000 in 2020, and 497,000 in 2019) 23,997 were full-freighter operations. This is 1% more than in 2020 (23,782), but 70% more than in 2019 (14,156).
Freighter traffic was able to capitalize on slots having been freed by the drop of passenger movements, said Robert Carsouw, who joined the Schiphol group as CFO in April 2021. “We are in talks with the industry to keep them.”
The company’s CEO, Dick Benschop confirmed that the availability of slots had benefitted cargo. “The cargo carriers are now building up historic rights and the so-called Local Rule 2 will grant slot priority to the cargo companies that are important to Schiphol,” he added.
Clear questions needed for Maastricht share
Mr. Benschop also said that dnata’s move to the Schiphol Zuidoost zone was triggered by the decision to turn the only remaining single-lane taxiway ‘Quebec’ into a dual lane, which will then be connected to the existing taxiways. This would force the taxiway to run straight through dnata’ s present site.
The CEO did not comment on dnata’s decision to opt for Lödige for the automated state-of-the art system that will run the operations. “dnata has announced a wonderful piece of infrastructure and we are very pleased with it,” he said diplomatically.
Responding to the question on the talks between Schiphol Group and Maastricht Airport on a participation, Mr Benschop answered: “We feel responsible for the airports in the Netherlands, and if questions pop up on involvement and support, we step in, like we did in Groningen Airport. This time, the Province of Limburg put the question. We want them to make clear what they wish us to do and what our involvement would be. So, any action from our side will depend on the questions on the table.”
Out of ADP
Schiphol Group’s revenue was 816 million euros, half of the pre-Covid result of 1.651 billion euro back in 2019, but 18.6% more than the 688 million euro of 2020. This has led to an underlying operational income of -287 million euro, still an improvement compared to 2020’s -521 million.
Eventually, Schiphol Group will post a net result of 105 million euro, due to its decision to pull out of Aéroports de Paris (ADP), in which it has an 8% share. “Based on its present market value, this is estimated at 280 million euro which, of course, is not cashed-in. The value may be gone in an instant,” said Mr Carsouw. Some undisclosed de-investments in real estate made up for the rest of the difference between the underlying and the net result.
Increase of airport dues challenged
In all, Schiphol Group can still boast a solid cash position of 1.2 billion euros. Investment was on the modest side in 2021; 451 million euros vs. 787 million in 2020 and a record of 860 million in 2019. For 2022, the company intends to invest some 800 million euros, mostly in passenger-related infrastructure and transport links.
Schiphol Group does not expect the market to return to pre-Covid levels before 2024. For the time being, passenger numbers will decide on breaking even or not. To generate more income, the group has decided to increase its airport dues by 37% over the next three years, a decision which is being challenged by KLM and other airlines. The airport users have appealed to the Authority for Consumers & Markets. Should this claim be rejected, legal action may follow, they indicated.
Marcel Schoeters in Amsterdam
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