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Netherlands: Schiphol Airport seeks to make it easier for cargo airlines to secure slots

Schiphol Airport’s slot coordination committee has forwarded a “local rule” proposal to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management that would make it easier for cargo airlines to nab slots at the Dutch aviation hub.

Evofenedex, the Dutch shippers and logistics organization, disclosed that the airport’s operator, Schiphol Group, and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam) submitted the proposal separately.

The plan, which was green-lighted by a majority of carriers in the slot coordination committee, would prioritize cargo carriers in the apportionment of unused slots.

“We are pleased that the airlines, through the coordination committee, have resolved this by themselves and that the majority of them are in favor of the local rule,” Schiphol Group said in a statement.

“Schiphol recognizes the value of air cargo as part of its Mainport project, and therefore its value to the Dutch economy. It is Schiphol’s objective to aim for sustainable growth at the airport after 2020 and air freight is an important part of that,” the statement continued.

The proposal is looked forward to as a solution to the longstanding debates over slot allocations for cargo operators at the congested airport. Under IATA rules, airlines that use their slots less than 80% of the time risk losing them. This threshold is not often reached by cargo airlines, whose operations are less consistent than those of their passenger counterparts.

Schiphol needed to introduce a slot-reduction protocol with the onset of the winter 2017-18 season after it broke a legally prescribed quota of 500,000 aircraft movements per annum earlier this year.

The situation has forced some full-freighter carriers to move to other airports, mostly Liège and Brussels National.

Tensions rose after Russian operator AirBridge Cargo lost almost half of its 23 weekly slots. That led to Russia threatening to shut down its airspace to Dutch-registered aircrafts and airlines as a response to the development. The conflict was later amicably resolved by a slot-sharing commercial agreement between the cargo operator and KLM.

AirBridge Cargo is the largest full-freighter operator at the airport, operating fourteen weekly departures while KLM operates forty-seven weekly departures with its mixed passenger-cargo B747-400(M)s.

Other all-cargo airlines that are at Amsterdam include Martinair with fourteen weekly departures, China Cargo Airlines with twelve and Suparna Airlines with ten.

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