Schiphol back at ‘old’ level
24 April 2023
After a few challenging years, Schiphol is finally more or less back to its previous level. The current market is fairly similar to the period before the coronavirus pandemic. For a while it seemed that cutting back on flights would throw a spanner in the works. But halfway through April, the sector breathed a sigh of relief: the reduction of flight numbers has been postponed until 2024.
Schiphol figures on the rise
After a few difficult years, the air freight sector is finally operating at its former level. We are referring to the period before the coronavirus crisis. Market demand in March 2023 was only 3% below that of the previous calendar year. This is the lowest decline in more than a year. Even the recent added capacity of more than 16%, freed up by extra available cargo space on passenger flights, seems to have little effect on this.
Despite the increased capacity, the load factor last March was 6% higher than in January. What’s more, customer confidence is on the rise. Once again, relatively long transport contracts are being signed for periods of 6 months or more. Of course, this is a great boost for air traffic at Schiphol.
500,000 flights to remain for now
For a while, there were fears that Schiphol shrinkage would throw a spanner in the works. The demand to reduce flight movements by 40,000 will not be approved as yet. The court issued its ruling on this in mid-April.
The lodged application, submitted by Infrastructure minister Harbers on behalf of the ministry, should ensure the reduction of nuisance in the surrounding area, and the reduction of CO2 emissions and nitrogen.
The air freight sector is breathing a sigh of relief now the court case is off the table for now. More than 2.5% of flights at Schiphol are freight flights. It means the continuation of almost 500,000 flights is secure for the current year and will hereby remain at the previous level. Postponing this decision also prevents freight flights from moving abroad.
Tomorrow never comes does not apply
Of course, shippers are aware of the contribution of freight flights to noise and emissions, and they often opt for alternative freight methods. Yet for some goods, air freight is unavoidable – such as equipment, pharmaceutical products and perishable goods. These types of goods can reach their end destination within 24 hours if air freight is used.
Because the cargo often has to be delivered quickly, shippers place high value on a reliable partner. Next on the list is value for money.
Over the period of the court case’s postponement, the industry has time to convince politicians that shrinkage is not necessary. Through a new air cargo manifesto, the air freight industry aims to reach short-term agreements with Schiphol. In doing so, they are reaching out to accelerate the sustainability of the airport.
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