© Devy schiphol klm_87265346
© Devy

Freighter operators’ hopes of securing more slots at Schiphol have been dashed following a government ruling against the introduction of the ‘local rule’.

But the cargo community is now working on a new solution to help freighter operators at the slot-constrained airport.

Infrastructure minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen said she could not greenlight the rule as there was a chance it would make the airport exceed the maximum number of flights permitted: set at 500,000 until 2020.

“The fact that slots are allocated on the basis of an estimate, implies that these are in fact slots which are entirely allocated outside the distribution rules of the Final Regulation,” she wrote to the Dutch chamber.

“Since I can only approve or reject a local guideline, and cannot change it myself, I am forced to reject the local guideline.”

However, adding that she had “sympathy” with the situation, she also left the door open for further action by the Coordination Committee Netherlands (CCN).

“Should the CCN provide an adapted local guideline for approval that takes into account the foregoing, I am ready and waiting. I sympathise and I look forward to it with interest.”

Rogier Spoel, policy adviser for Dutch shipper organisation Evofenedex, said the cargo community was working hard to submit a new proposal.

“We know what the issues are and are now working swiftly to come up with a new version.”

But he added: “We are disappointed by the outcome, as well as the slow process on approval of the rule. Of course it was never the intention to somehow push for more flight movements than the cap of 500.000 movements. The rule was there to optimise slots towards 500,000 movements by using allocated but unused slots (e.g due to cancellations).”

Essentially, any new proposal would have to ensure that Schiphol’s maximum number of flights were not exceeded and approval would not be given on the basis of estimates alone – but complete accuracy could be difficult to determine.

With increasing numbers of changes to Schiphol’s cargo operation in recent months, including the closure of freight stations to make way for passenger aircraft parking and the merger of the cargo department into aviation marketing, it would seem that there is now a less cargo-focused strategy at the airport, despite its  world-renowned reputation for cargo innovation, technology and efficiency.

It comes following significant changes to the senior management team. The chief commercial officer joined in April 2016, the chief financial officer joined in May 2017 and the president and CEO has only been at the airport for two months.

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