AMS Cargo’s Slot Nightmare Should End by Next October

The Coordination Committee Netherlands (CCN), has sent a draft proposal on the implementation of a local (slot) rule at AMS to the Minister of Infrastructure Cora van Nieuwenhuizen for final approval. Once okayed by her, it ends the ongoing uncertainty on the allocation of slots to cargo operators beginning in the next winter season.

As things stand, the Dutch government will soon ink a final and binding agreement on slot allocations for freighter aircraft operating at AMS. If so, it would put an end to a long running dispute over the fiercely debated issue that damaged the reputation of AMS as cargo friendly airport and infuriated the Dutch air freight community time and again.
First signs that the conflict might be settled in the near term were sent out earlier this year by Ms van Nieuwenhuizen. She passed on the above mentioned CCN proposal to the Airport Coordination Netherlands (ACNL) for further scrutiny. ACNL is an independent non-profit organization responsible for the allocation and monitoring of slots at the three major Dutch airports: Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Maastricht.
The ACNL experts had identified some technical obstacles as to the practicability of the ruling, which – so it seems – have been sorted out. The revised proposal has now been sent back to the minister, who is expected to give it a green light in the days to come.

Historic rights
The moment Ms van Nieuwenhuizen does so, the new ruling is ready for implementation in October, when the next winter flight plan begins, says Maarten van As, Managing Director of Air Cargo Netherlands. “It will ensure that 25% of non-used slots will be reserved for cargo operations. On top of that, the ruling will make it easier for the airlines to hold on to their historic rights.”
ACN is the industry association for the air cargo sector in The Netherlands. ACN’s main objective is the development of the Dutch air cargo industry in the broadest possible manner.
The local rule is only intended to accommodate existing cargo flights within the present slot allocation system. The further development of freighter traffic at AMS Schiphol will have to be defined in the ‘aviation policy document’ (Luchtvaartnota), which is currently being rewritten. The document is expected to be ready by the end of this year. So interested applicants still have to keep waiting in line at least until then before being conceded landing rights at AMS.
ACN is one of the sounding boards in the discussion, says Mr van As. “The aviation policy document has to deal with a lot of legal issues, not in the least to comply with the European legislation. Now, the scope of the policy and the level of detail are on the table.”
Mr van As thinks that it is imperative that the aviation policy will both endorse the importance of air cargo for AMS and the Dutch economy and will also define the ways to deliver in this respect.

Speaking for the entrepreneurs’ organisation evofenedex aviation advisor Rogier Spoel says there is still a ‘through the grapevine’ aspect in the reports on the local rule. “The actual green light has not been officially confirmed, but we think that it will at least give a bit more air to the air cargo market.”Marcel Schoeters from Amsterdam

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