Schiphol cargo demand down despite more freighter flights

By Damian Brett

An increase in freighter flights at Amsterdam Schiphol in the first half of the year was not enough to offset volume losses due to the cancellation of passenger services.

The Dutch hub recorded cargo volumes of 655,942 tonnes in the first half, a decline of 14.5% year on year as the Covid-19 pandemic took its toll.

Full freighter flights were up 48.1% to 10,274 air transport movements (ATM) from January to June, but the number of belly flights dropped by 51.6% to 105,665 ATMs.

As a result, freighter volumes increased by 12.4% year on year to 463,679 tonnes, while belly cargo volumes dropped 45.9% to 192,264 tonnes.

The airport pointed out that it rose from fourth to third in the list of the busiest European cargo hubs during the period, getting back ahead of Heathrow but behind Paris CDG and Frankfurt.

“Schiphol’s figures and operations were heavily impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak, and from early this year, the decline in passenger aircraft led to a decrease in belly volumes,” said Bart Pouwels, head of cargo, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

“ATMs are now showing signs of recovery which is positive. The extra belly capacity on intercontinental routes helps the air cargo market in Amsterdam to better serve its customers.”

Looking at individual markets, inbound cargo to North America was down 17.1% to 46,680 tonnes and outbound by 17.7% to 67,729 tonnes.

In Europe, inbound cargo was down slightly by 3% to 46,067 tonnes, but outbound fell by 23.5% to 41,866 tonnes.

Asia inbound was down 8.1% to 121,008 tonnes and outbound declined 17.5% to 107,735 tonnes. Shanghai remained the biggest single market destination from January to June.

The Middle East region showed the only growth sector as inbound was up 9.2% to 48,682 tonnes, but outbound decreased 11.7% to 45,914 tonnes.

The Latin America market’s inbound volume fell 21.8% 45,872 tonnes and outbound was down 14.6% to 31,762 tonnes.

Inbound to Africa was down 29.5% to 32,821 tonnes and outbound by 22.3% to 19,806 tonnes, driven by a decrease in the import and exports of flowers.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has also led to a shift in cargo flows and some usually high-volume verticals have decreased, such as the import and export of flowers,” said Pouwels.

“The Schiphol air cargo community has worked closely together to ensure that essential cargo was moved through the supply chain.”

Looking ahead, the airport said the future was uncertain at Schiphol as “markets around the globe are at different stages of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“We are seeing passenger flights increasing which means an increase in belly capacity, but it is important we move along with customer needs and make sure all demands are accommodated as well as possible,” said Maaike van der Windt, director aviation marketing, cargo and customer experience.

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