In anticipation of discussions in the Dutch Parliament on the aviation infrastructure in The Netherlands, three Dutch industry associations – the Dutch Shippers’ Council evofenedex – TLN (Transport & Logistics Netherlands) and ACN – called upon Transport Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen to speed up the process of establishing a local rule regarding slots at Schiphol.  

The organizations are hoping to have it implemented before the start of the next IATA summer season (starting on March 25). In a recent meeting with the Parliament’s Aviation Commission, the Transport Minister acknowledged the need for a local rule for all cargo carriers at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, but she didn’t indicate the date of effectiveness. 

Without the rule being effective, the air cargo industry and its customers fear that the reduction of all-cargo flights at Schiphol will continue. This will impact employment in the air cargo industry and may damage the position of Dutch exporters and importers. In the current IATA winter season, which started at the end of October, there has been a decrease of around 12% of the number of full freighters calling the main Dutch airport. 

The new local rule is intended to counter the effects of the slot scarcity caused by the 500,000 annual aircraft movement cap for the year 2020, which was agreed upon in 2008. As the airport almost breached this cap in 2017, a slot-reduction process has been put in place, which has had a particular impact on cargo flights. The local rule aims to make it easier for carriers to adapt their schedules to changing market requirements, without losing grandfather rights to their slots. In addition, all slots that are not flown would be reallocated with priority for all cargo flights up to 25% of the unused slots. 

Approval and implementation of the local rule was delayed due to technical discussion within the Coordination Committee Netherlands (CCN) last December. Meanwhile, the issue was discussed during a working group meeting mid January. A second meeting is planned on this topic to draft a final text. Subsequently, it will be presented to the CCN for voting in an extraordinary meeting around on February 14.  

Finally, CCN‘s advice will be send to the Ministry of Transport in order for them to check, confirm and communicate to the European Commission. In particular, the proposed rule should not affect the independent status of the coordinator, must comply with Community law and has to improve the efficient use of airport capacity. Moreover, the airport slot coordinator of the Netherlands, ACNL (Airport Coordination Netherlands) has to prepare for a swift implementation, hopefully before the IATA summer seasons gets off. At ACN we keep our fingers crossed!