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HOW TO Freight Freight expectations Amsterdam Airport Schiphol


therefore have to follow trade routes. Freighters do not always operate on a point-to-point basis and when planning for freighters we try to link various trade routes in order to make a complete rotation that is also commercially viable. “Another challenge we face with


planning for freighters is that the market tends to be highly seasonal. In addition, trade flows can often shift at short notice due to economic or other geopolitical factors. When planning for freighters, we need to be constantly aware of global market conditions and we have to be flexible and agile to adapt to these changes and make the necessary modifications to routing making sure that capacity is available where there is demand.” This is not to say that cargo has no role


to play in route development, but its role is minimal. If an airline finds itself able to boost its profit margins on a new route thanks to freight opportunities, it will do so and will always be interested to do so. But it is very much the cherry on the cake as opposed to the sponge itself. Von Hoensbroech says: “It’s


important that everyone making network decisions on the passenger side has a realistic view of what they can achieve from cargo, but even so, it’s still an attractive business opportunity for long-haul airlines. There is significant opportunity for revenue and profit when the costs of transporting cargo in the belly of a passenger aircraft are pretty low. “That’s why, when we make passenger network decisions, the cargo revenues are always part of the decision.” £


132 ISSUE 5 ROUTES NEWS 2017 routesonline.com


It may be obvious to consider the networking question of air cargo from an airline’s perspective but it can be just as illuminating talking with a primary airfreight airport. Consider Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Handling nearly 1.7 million tonnes of cargo every year may not put it in the same league as Hong Kong’s 4.6 million, but Schiphol is well known for its award- winning work on facilitating airline’s cargo business, which includes network management. “Airfreight can be a key factor in whether a route is earning or losing money,” says Jonas van Stekelenburg head of cargo at the airport. “That’s why, at Schiphol, we always use a community approach to cargo. After all, if an airline isn’t making money flying to or from us then neither will we. “We treat it as a group relationship where we, the airline, the government, customs, inspections and any other freight organisation all look for ways to optimise and innovate to create a seamless flow.” While that’s an admirable approach, Schiphol also works on helping airlines develop new routes. Van Stekelenburg explains that the airport will often go to new destination with an airline to meet with their local equivalents to discuss how they can apply the community approach to all of their mutual benefit. While the likes of Lufthansa may consider cargo only on primary export routes and only an air perspective, Schiphol also looks into how they can tap into indirect cargo flows, either with team work or by being willing to consider multi-modal options. For example, van Stekelenburg talks about how Schiphol can help arrange Norwegian fish to be trucked to Amsterdam and then flown to Asia, despite it not being a direct airfreight trade route. By working with the various stakeholders, everyone is able to benefit from a indirect trade route. “If you’re only flying passengers, you don’t need


to have a very good or close relationship with the airport or customs. But on the airfreight side, the stakeholders involve a forwarder or expeditor, the airline, customs, the ground handler and more. You need to have a good relationship with them all so that everything goes smoothly, especially at the handover moment, which are where things can go wrong.” Wilco Sweijen, director aviation


Jonas van Stekelenburg


marketing at Schiphol, adds: “For many years, we have been working close together with our cargo colleagues to grow the business together. Various


tools have been developed to get a better understanding of the cargo market and its potential. In our meetings with airlines we stress the importance of cargo and what it can contribute to the overall profitability of the route. With the new type of aircrafts being added to airline fleets, like the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787, which offer more capacity for belly cargo, we foresee that the importance of cargo will only increase.”


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