Old aircraft out, newer jetliners in: At Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST), noisy and dirty freighters will presumably soon be banned, making the place more attractive for more modern and cleaner aircraft, the management expects. This upcoming U-turn in traffic policy was triggered by a survey concerning noise emissions initiated by airport owner, the Dutch Province of Limburg. The study is a reaction to mounting protests of dwellers complaining about increasing noise emissions caused by cargo aircraft operating at MST. The results of the study will strongly influence MST’s future cargo traffic. CargoForwarder Global (CFG) talked about the situation with CEO, Jos Roeven (JR).
CFG: As you just mentioned, on Friday (16DEC22), a new ownership structure will be discussed with Amsterdam Schiphol Group stepping in as stakeholder. If so, what changes do you think
will emerge for MST?
JR: On 03JUN22, the Provincial Council decided that the airport would remain open, turning down proposals to close it altogether. But this was combined with some conditions, for instance: to present a sound business case, collaborate with a strong partner, and reduce noise emissions as best we can, among others. Therefore, the proposed ban of the noisiest and most polluting aircraft types is part of this scheme and will hopefully be approved by the end of next week.
CFG: The Dutch government plans to set up a national airport system, dominated by the Amsterdam Schiphol Group. What role will Maastricht Aachen Airport play within this setting, provided the project will be realized?
JR: Amsterdam Schiphol and Maastricht are the only airports that handle cargo in the Netherlands. We expect added value in sharing and absorbing knowledge with / from Schiphol. For example, we have already benefited greatly from Schiphol's knowledge of the runway renovation project, and we expect this to be the case in future in areas such as real estate, environmental management, parking, concession agreements, etc. In addition, the collaboration means that the two cargo airports in the Netherlands are now joining forces. This allows us to better serve our customers. Think of knowledge sharing, setting up daily RFS shuttles, standardization of services, etc.
CFG: MST applied for a new operating license. Why?
JR: We expect to be allowed to utilize our entire runway (2750 m instead of 2500 m). But our curfew might be prolonged by one hour, from 23:00 to 07:00 instead of 06:00 today. It would take effect at the end of 2024.
CFG: Basically, the question is whether cargo airlines really need MST Airport? There are plenty of alternatives in the vicinity such as AMS, CGN, DUS, BRU, LGG and some others.
JR: At MST, we do the airport and handling operations ourselves. There are no slot restrictions. Therefore, despite the curfew, we are really flexible in serving our clients. And our handling operation is of utmost quality which is a great competitive advantage compared to some other airports. Our aim is to be operationally profitable and deliver first class service to our customers. It’s better to be the best rather than the biggest.
CFG: Finally, your official IATA code is MST. However, you use MAA, the three-letter code of Chennai Airport (formerly Madras). Any consideration to adapt your acronym to reality?
JR: That’s a great question. The official name of our airport is Maastricht Aachen Airport, locally abbreviated and widely known as MAA. To be honest and looking at the current situation, this topic does not stand very high on our agenda. We are quite relaxed and will see what the future brings.
CFG, Jos Roeven, thanks for the interview
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