AMS merges cargo, aviation divisions; van Stekelenburg to step down

As of April 1, Schiphol Airport’s Cargo Division will be merged into Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s (AMS) Aviation and Marketing Department, which raised questions about the hub’s future commitment to attracting main-deck freighter traffic.

Jonas van Stekelenburg, who led the Schiphol Cargo department for near three years, says the move will put “cargo at the heart of our airport,” in a Feb. 21 statement. However, once the merge is completed, van Stekelenburg will leave the company this summer. In his place, Maaike van der Windt, who joined AMS’ marketing department last year, will take the lead of the newly-merged department.

“We recognize the importance of belly capacity beside full freight capacity and aligning cargo with passenger network and business development ensures we optimize opportunities,” said van der Windt. However, the change in AMS’ internal structure may be an indicator that the hub is moving away from doing business with freighters, in favor of the prettier sister, combination carriers, which struggle less to meet the 80:20 rule, a ratio imposed by IATA dictating that carriers and freighters conducting business at AMS must utilize their slots 80 percent of the time, or face forfeiting its slots to be better utilized.

This news follows an eventful year for AMS, which has experienced increasing demand for its slots from freighters and combination carriers – a demand in part hampered by the government-imposed growth ceiling that mandates the airport stay below 500,000 air traffic movements (ATMs) through 2020. The airport has attempted to allocate its scarce slots to carriers eager to fly through AMS by imposing the 80:20 rule.

Let us not forget the drama that followed when Russian carrier AirBridgeCargo lost slots at AMS due to a failure to meet the new the traffic quota, which resulted in the Russian government threatening to pull its permission for Dutch airlines to fly in Russian skies.

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