Schiphol reports a shortage of capacity

06 / 11 / 2009

AIR cargo is being held up on Asian routes for lack of freighter lift, according to Enno Osinga, senior vice-president cargo at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, in what might be one of the most hopeful signs yet of a recovery in the airfreight business.Having just returned from a trip to Shanghai in mid-October, Osinga reports that forwarders in the city were experiencing a shortage of capacity. “At Schiphol, we have also seen a definite increase in ad-hoc charters,” he added. “For example, MK Airlines have done four flights in one week out of Shanghai, which is an indication that there is a real increase in demand.”He concedes that continuing low rates may be discouraging carriers from restoring freighter services, but conversely he is encouraged by a steady increase in cargo at Schiphol over the recent summer months. “Normally tonnages would go down then, but this year there has been a rise each month,” he says. “Handlers are reporting increasing volumes, and passenger carriers are really maximising belly capacity.”Schiphol itself saw tonnage down 14.7 per cent year-on-year in September, a slightly disappointing figure given that September 2008 was when the airport first started to see significant falls in traffic.Osinga admits that the year-on-year comparisons have to improve by November and December, when the full impact of the slump was felt in 2008. Nevertheless, he is optimistic that Schiphol might do better than the 19 per cent fall it is forecasting for the full year 2009.The Dutch airport has seen a 24 per cent fall in freighter movements over the past year, but Osinga points to several special factors in this. El Al Airlines transferred its B747-200 freighter operations to Liège (Belgium) in November, but this was due to a new pricing structure at Schiphol aimed at reducing noise levels.When Polar Air was bought by DHL, its flights were also shifted to the transpacific, and Martinair has parked several of its freighters and replaced them with the freighters of KLM. Meanwhile Malaysian, Great Wall and Kalitta have all reduced frequencies, and Jett8 of Singapore has pulled out altogether.However, Osinga says several carriers have added freighter frequencies in recent months, including AirBridgeCargo, China Southern, Emirates and Korean. The former added a weekly flight to Narita on 22 October.For the full story read the latest issue of Air Cargo News, dated 13 November, 2009. To subscribe, click on ‘Subscribe’ above.