© Digikhmer dutch parliament_21368820
Binnenhof, the Dutch parliament © Digikhmer

The Dutch secretary of state for infrastructure and the environment is supporting Air Cargo Netherlands’ bid to implement a ‘local rule’ at Schiphol, to help freighters secure slots at the capacity-restricted airport.

In a letter to the Dutch parliament seen by The Loadstar, Sharon Dijksma indicated her support for freighter operators, noting the “importance of air cargo for the main port of Schiphol and employment in the freight sector”.

“I have indicated your chamber to be in favour of such a local rule, provided that it is in line with the principles of the European Final Regulation and in accordance with the system of the regulation by the co-ordination committee, will be submitted to me for approval.”

However, as she pointed out, Ms Dijksma does not have the power to veto the recent vote, which saw low-cost and leisure airlines reject the ‘local rule’, which would give priority to maindeck operators.

So she has asked Schiphol to find a locally supported proposal within four weeks that must also abide by European rules.

“It is the only way to get a proposal the secretary can formally approve,” explained Rogier Spoel, policy adviser for Evofenedex. “She has no ability to act on her own.

“For the rule to succeed, we need the backing of KLM. It abstained in the previous coordination committee vote due to the complexities of the rule, and it couldn’t fully understand all the side effects of the rule. So we need to get this covered.

“Schiphol is in the lead to coordinate talks to get a proposal on the table in the coming four weeks,” he added.

Evofenedex is also lobbying IATA to shift its 80:20 slot allocation rule to give freighter operators more, by implementing a 70:30 rule for maindeck aircraft.

“The 80:20 rule is a major roadblock,” said Mr Spoel. “Full freighter flights are much more vulnerable to external factors, so a lower level would be justified.

“Furthermore, aviation is growing faster than the major airports can expand. Mostly because of the growth of low-cost/leisure airlines, other airports like Schiphol will face these problems, where the full freighter operations are the ones pushed out, and flights will have to move to secondary airports such as Liege, Maastricht, Frankfurt Hahn. But the problem with some secondary airports is that is they lack state-of-the-art cargo facilities, infrastructure and knowledge centres.

“Adopting a 70:30 rule for full freighters mean that you have more opportunities to balance the type of flights at an airport, and put a restriction on the growth of low-cost/leisure carriers at the major airports.”

Despite repeated requests from The Loadstar for a comment from IATA on how it plans to support freighter operators, the association has yet to respond, aside from a robust defence last month of the 80:20 rule.

It said: “The Worldwide Slots Guidelines (WSG) are the global standard for managing congestion at slot-constrained airports. They are based on the principles of transparency, consistency and fairness, allowing a balance of historic use with access to new operators, and incentives for ensuring reliable use of scarce capacity.

“The 80:20 rule is an important element of the WSG which is proven to work effectively and is accepted worldwide as a benchmark.

“The best way to alleviate the problems caused by slot constraints is not to find ways around the WSG, but to ensure more capacity is brought into the airport system, through timely consultation with airlines.

“This is a Europe-wide problem, as more than 100 of the 177 capacity-constrained airports worldwide are in Europe and with passenger numbers set to jump by 50% in the next 20 years, the capacity crunch is reaching crisis levels.”

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