AirBridge Cargo loses Schiphol slots; seeks alternatives

AirBridge Cargo (RU, Ulyanovsk Vostochny) has confirmed that it has lost slots at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, reports The Loadstar. The Russian freighter is now looking for alternative airports in Europe, most likely in Germany or Belgium.

“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,” AirBridge Cargo told The Loadstar.

The freighter carrier has apparently fallen foul of the 80:20 rule, meaning it did not fly at least 80% of its flights as scheduled. This would normally be negotiable, but Schiphol has reached its 500,000 a year slot capacity, meaning it is operating under constraint. This rule obviously presents a problem to cargo companies which frequently need to adjust their schedules based on supply chain and logistics. ABC is lobbying for the adoption of ‘local rules’, with support from fellow freighter operators Cargolux, Kalitta Air, Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Freight handling workers at Amsterdam are naturally worried about the loss of AirBridge Cargo and other freighters. The Netherlands Trade Union Confederation (FNV) has said that hundreds of jobs are at stake, and Menzies Aviation has already cut 101 positions.

“There are fewer slots for freight flights available, while the slots for passenger flights increase sharply,” an FNV member said. “So the freight traffic has to divert to Maastricht or Belgium, and then we are left without work.”

AirBridge Cargo operates a fleet of seven B747-400(F) and eleven B747-8(F) aircraft and currently flies 21x weekly from Amsterdam to destinations in Russia and Europe with ten of these weekly flights originating in the United States and stopping in Amsterdam. It is not yet known how many of these will be cut, but it could be as many as fourteen. Another twenty airlines have regular cargo operations out of Schiphol, and their slots may also be at risk.

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