Schiphol slot restrictions could see the loss of 37 freighter flights per week
03 / 10 / 2017
Schiphol Airport could see as many as 37 freighter flights per week disappear this winter as a result of slot restrictions at the hub.
Last month, the Schiphol airport community’s worst fears were confirmed when Air Co-ordination Netherlands (ACNL) announced where slots would be allocated for the winter season.
Amsterdam's airport can handle a maximum of 500,000 slots per year and growth at the airport means that limit will be reached this year, with all-cargo flights accounting for around 18,000 of those.
When ACNL decides where slots should be allocated, those airlines that fail to adhere to 80% of their requested flight schedules are more likely to lose out as per IATA and European Union regulations.
The unpredictable nature of air cargo means freighter operators are less likely to hit the 80% mark.
Netherlands transport group Air Cargo Netherlands estimates that as many as 37 of the 150 freighter flights per week could be lost during the winter season as a result of the slot restrictions.
The organisation warned that most freighter operators are looking to move flights to Brussels, Liege or German airports, where they are “received with open arms”.
Ostend airport and Paris Vatry could also pick-up some freighter flights, one contact said.
Concerns have also been expressed over the impact the restrictions will have on ground handling jobs.
Dutch press reports quote the FNV union saying that as many as 100 jobs could be lost from ground handler Menzies as a result of the slot restrictions.
To try and mitigate the situation, Air Cargo Netherlands has proposed the creation of a local rule that would give priority to freighter operators when unused slots are re-allocated.
The organisation argues that other airports have their own local rules and that it would not contravene European regulations.
However, it is understood that the government is seeking approval of passenger airlines before pushing ahead with the local rule, which could hinder its progress.
The local rule is also backed by AirBridgeCargo, Cargolux, Emirates SkyCargo, Kalitta Air, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways, which each stand to lose out because of the slot restrictions.
Following on from the allocation of slots for the winter season, Schiphol cargo director Jonas van Stekelenburg said: “The slot coordinator has now allocated slots for the IATA winter season and, as we expected, we believe this will result in a 10.5% reduction in Full Freighter slots for 2018 compared to 2017.
“We expect that there will be some movement within this, with some carriers lending slots to others and some ad hoc slots allocated by the co-ordinator. In addition, some slots will not be used and will be handed back to be redistributed.
“Schiphol cannot intervene in the slot allocation, which is undertaken by an independent body, but we continue to support our stakeholders and customers through this period of adjustment.
“We understand that there is an initiative by Air Cargo Netherlands to give preference to full freighter operators when redistributing slots.
“This is under discussion and if the aviation community at AMS can agree on this preference, Schiphol’s position would be to support this, as long as it fits in with the current and/or future slot framework set up, and does not interfere with the vested historic slot rights of carriers. We expect some news regarding this in the coming weeks.”