Schiphol cargo pool not possible

Minister Mark Harbers (Infrastructure) has refused to set up a separate cargo pool for the Dutch air cargo sector at Schiphol Airport for legal reasons. The minister told this on Thursday in a parliamentary debate on the plan to reduce the number of flights at Schiphol by 12% to a maximum of 440,000 flights per year. The minister acknowledged that the cargo sector is vulnerable to further reductions in the number of flights at Schiphol, but the current “EU slot regulation” ensures that the government has no control over the types of flights. “It cannot be done,” he stressed to questions from VVD, PVV and CDA. During the debate, the three parties expressed particular concern that the cargo sector would be disproportionately affected by the planned shrinkage at Schiphol. VVD MP Daniel Koerhuis also pointed out that research by the aviation sector itself had shown that cargo pools were indeed legally viable. It would therefore be in place to see an extra effort from Harbers in that area, Koerhuis said.

The cargo pool aims to reserve 20,000 flights a year for the cargo sector, which is about 4.5% of the new cap of 440,000 flights. According to the proportionality principle, the cargo sector would otherwise lose a minimum of 12% of the number of flights at Schiphol, but the Dutch air cargo umbrella ACN takes into account a maximum loss of 30%, as Schiphol will lose its status as an interesting cargo hub due to the contraction of several cargo carriers. Harbers said that when reviewing the “EU slot regulation”, the Netherlands wanted to push for more national policy space, including network quality and keeping a healthy cargo sector, but in reality this would not help the cargo sector in the short term. In particular, Koerhuis wondered how cargo flights would be kept open in the meantime and how air cargo jobs could be preserved. A concrete answer to this had to be owed to Harbers.

Doing nothing is not an option according to PVV’s Dion Graus; if no action is taken by Harbers, KLM, Schiphol and the entire air cargo sector risk falling over. In the worst case scenario, the minister should disapply the regulations in the interest of the entire country, Graus said. Harbers told that such an emergency is currently not on the cards.