The Dutch umbrella organization, Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN), has again expressed its concern about the lack of slot availability at Schiphol Airport. The recently published ‘Air Cargo Monitor’ which looks back at 2019, is an important indicator in this respect, says the organization’s Managing Director, Maarten van As.
“As the monitor is compiled by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), it indeed offers a rear-view mirror of the state of the industry,” says Mr van As. “But it is very instructive if
projected against the future.”
“After a slight decline in 2018, 2019 brought a sharp decline of the air cargo volume at Schiphol”, he explains. “The decline of 8.5% could partially be explained by the economic circumstances and trade embargoes in 2019, but these are not the only explanation.”
“The lack of slots at Schiphol was another cause for the decline, especially since this was larger than at the neighboring airports. So, already in 2019, ACN called for enough space to secure air cargo at Schiphol.”
Impact on employment
Apart from the volume, the figures for 2019 also revealed a 2.5% decline of direct employment in the air cargo industry: from 13,480 (2018) to 13,413 (2019). Direct added value was down by 3.8%, from €1.36 billion to €1.31 billion. “Very prominent is the relatively large added value of plus minus 20% of the total added value of the airport,” says Mr. van As.
He admits that due to the Covid-19 crisis, enough slots have been available at the airport. “This, and the absence of belly capacity, have led to the fact that more cargo aircraft (+68% compared to 2019), were able to serve Schiphol in 2020.”
Pressure is building up
ACN expects that the position of air cargo at the airport will come under pressure again when the lack of slots will reappear, in spite of the fact that air cargo has proven to be an important modality for the transport of medicines, medical devices, and protective materials.
Apart from this, air cargo has manifested itself for many companies with an international value chain as a fast and particularly reliable way of transport of products that are essential to them. “It is therefore imperative that a short-term solution be found to retain sufficient space for cargo at Schiphol,” Mr van As adds.
Nail biting about environmental permit
The ACN MD admits that the Local Rule 2, stipulating that unused slots would be handed over preferably to cargo operators, is still in the pipeline. (CFG reported:
The process, however, appears to be slowing down. “We had hoped for this system to be installed this season, but now it looks as if it is going to be the next (2023) summer, or even winter season. We have warned the authorities that it might be better to plan everything a bit more in advance, because the airport may well reach its 500,000 operations capacity again in 2023.”
And another problem may be looming. “Up to now, the airport has not put its environmental permit in order. Should a new permit lead to losing 20% of this capacity – 100,000 operations less – the playing field is completely different. At that point, we would have to start discussions on what we want to eventually achieve.”
Marcel Schoeters in Amsterdam
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