AirBridge Cargo, the Russian cargo carrier, announced last week that it has cut certain flights to Amsterdam due to the airport authority revoking some of its slots. The carrier is now reportedly looking for alternative airports in Europe to operate to, “most likely in Germany or Belgium,” according to local media.
AirBridge Cargo has stated: “We are still in the process of negotiating the slots issue in Amsterdam but, regretfully, we can admit that ABC will definitely lose some of its current slots in Schiphol”.
According to reports, the Russian airline did not follow Schiphol’s 80:20 rule, which states that airports can lose slots if they do not fly 80% of the flights that they were scheduled to fly to the airport. Usually, an airline operating to Schiphol can negotiate a solution with the airport authorities, but due to the airport reaching its 500,000 yearly slot capacity, such negotiations would place the airport under the already immense pressure it faces with scheduling.
This slot problem is one of many problems for cargo airlines at Schiphol, as cargo carriers commonly change their schedules at will based on how much demand there is and the logistics of supplying that demand. The Russian carrier is pushing for the placement of “local rules” that would prevent this situation, and the carrier has gotten support from other cargo airlines that operate to Schiphol, including Singapore Airlines Cargo, Cargolux, Kalitta Air, Emirates Cargo and Qatar Airways Cargo.
Staff that handle cargo flights in Amsterdam fear that with ABC’s ending of operations to the airport, other cargo operators could also end flights, leading to potential job cuts. The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FVN) has said that many jobs could be lost, and 101 positions have already been cut by Menzies Aviation, a ground service provider, at the airport.
An FVN member who spoke with local media stated that, “There are fewer slots for freight flights available, while the slots for passenger flights have increased sharply, so the freight traffic [diverts] to Maastricht or Belgium, and then we are left without work.”
The Russian carrier operates a fleet of eighteen Boeing 747 Freighters, including seven B747-400Fs and eleven B747-8Fs. The carrier is scheduled to operate 21 weekly flights to Amsterdam, with 14 of those weekly slots being taken away by the airport authority at the moment. Besides ABC, twenty other cargo carriers operate to Amsterdam who fear their slots being taken away.
Featured image by Nick McGowan / @chicagospotter.