Schiphol local rule for freighter operators rejected

19 / 06 / 2018

The Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management has rejected the 'local rule' proposal for Amsterdam's slot-constrained Schiphol Airport.

The proposed rule would have given freighter operators priority on the first 25% of any unused slots (for reasons such as flights cancelled due to bad weather) that are returned for re-allocation, in light of the fact it is harder for them to maintain the regular flights required for scheduled slots.

In a letter to the House of Representatives, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said that, after meeting with several industry bodies, she decided to reject the local rule proposal over concerns that it could lead to the airport exceeding its annual limit of 500,000 movements.

She explained that under the local rule proposal, re-allocated slots would have been based on an estimate, and with the airport so close to breaching its annual movement limit, she was concerned that it would have resulted in Schiphol exceeding 500,000 movements.

"I do not want to run that risk because I want to keep to this agreed maximum," the letter read. "Since I can only approve or reject a local guideline and can not change it myself, I am forced to reject the local guideline.

"Should the [slot] Co-ordination Committee Netherlands submit an adapted local guideline for approval that takes account of the foregoing, then I will be sympathetic to it and I look forward to it with interest."

Rogier Spoel from Dutch shipper group Evofenedex said the group was disappointed by the decision, especially because of the amount of time the whole process took.

"The main concern is, that there is a theoretical chance that in the workings of the local rule, the number of flight movements would exceed 500,000," he said.

"Exceeding 500,000 flight movements was of course never the goal of the rule. The goal was to reuse slots that were allocated, but not used, due to for instance a cancellation.

"It should never exceed the limit of 500.000 flight movements, all parties agree on this. Still the ministry saw a theoretical chance that limit would be exceeded.

"We are already in contact with the players and hope to push for a amended version as a soon as possible.

"However, we do need to work through the whole process of Co-ordination Committee and approval by the Minister. This time however, we hope for a swift process."

Schiphol's 500,000 movement limit runs until at least 2020 and the airport almost reached that limit last year.

Freighter operators face the extra challenge of trying to meet IATA requirements to operate 80% of a series of planned services in order to maintain slots, which can sometimes be hard to do given the ad hoc nature of the air cargo sector.

This has resulted in some freighter operators losing their slots and moving services to nearby hubs - in the first quarter of 2018, full-freighter calls at the airport were down by 7.4%.

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