There is a good chance that the number of cargo flights with import flowers from Africa and South America arriving at Schiphol can be increased this winter. The Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Cora Nieuwenhuizen, has given the green light for the allocation of slots – departure and arrival times – via the so-called Schiphol Local Rule 2. This can be understood from a letter that she sent to the House of Representatives this week. Air-cargo carriers are moderately positive about the news.
The new rules will come into force on 31 August 2019 and they will be evaluated after one year.
Local Rule 2 stipulates that if, at the end of a season, there are any unused slots – for example due to bad weather or operational issues – they can be allocated again. It has been decided that 25% of those slots will be specifically made available for air-cargo planes. Local Rule 2 also gives airlines more freedom to change their schedules, without losing their historical rights.
The opportunities for cargo flights have been constrained since the summer of 2017, when Schiphol reached its maximum of 500,000 aircraft movements. Regulations became stricter and it became more difficult for cargo flights to maintain their historical rights. As a result, some cargo carriers transferred flights to Liege, Brussels and Maastricht.
Industry association Air Cargo Nederland (ACN) is moderately positive about the new rules. “This Local Rule isn’t the ultimate solution for the shortage of slots for cargo flights, among others, at Schiphol. Demand is still larger than supply. But this is a positive message from the minister and the slot coordinator to the air cargo sector, which has been asking for clarity for a long time”, said managing director Maarten van As.
Season slot pool
The renewed local guideline makes it easier for air cargo carriers to retain their historically accumulated rights. There’s also going to be a so-called season slot pool, in which all unused slots are collected. This pool is primarily intended for incidental and unforeseen operational cases. For example, when an aircraft can’t depart due to technical problems and therefore requires a new slot. If, at the end of the season, there are any slots left in the pool, 25% of those will be allocated to air cargo on an ad hoc basis.