Russia to ban Dutch airlines over slot spat at Amsterdam Schipol

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The Russian Government, no fan of the Dutch aviation sector after its scathing critique of the Malaysia Airlines shoot down, many of the victims being Dutch nationals, is to retaliate over the latest dispute.

Amsterdam’s government and the national government have an agreed number of slots at Amsterdam Schipol of 800,000 per annum. The problem is that number will be breached before year’s end unless a large slice of current slots are axed. The decision was to slash cargo operators, and one of the victims is Russia’s ABC Air Bridge Cargo.

Schipol airport is deeply bothered as it seems that this could be the straw that breaks a fragile camels back – they’re expecting to see a near evacuation of cargo carriers from Schipol if this happens. It will add 4 or more hours to many flights to Asia.

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Now it’s not all Dutch regulators being difficult. ABC lost half its 21 slot pairs last month when the airport was forced to impose restrictions to stay in the law.

The reason they were lost is covered by  IATA and the EU’s 80:20 rule – if an airline doesnt fly 80% of its slots as scheduled then it looses any rights to them.

Politicians in Holland are pointing fingers at each other, with neither side wanting to change the rules to meet the others needs. Freight flights in and out of Schipol have dropped 30%.

Russia says it’s not fair to penalize ABC, but the Dutch view is that’s’ not their fault all the slots weren’t used. ABC and Russia say the full winter schedule will be utilised.

The bottom line is that the airlines and the airport have decided that passenger traffic takes priority, and freight traffic is entirely secondary, something cargo operators resent as they bring billions of Euros into and out of Holland.

There is also the strong suggestion that the 80:20 rule, which favours KLM, acts as legalised protectionism for the carriers cargo services.

If it’s not resolved by Saturday, KLM as a whole will be banned from Russian airspace – its First Freedom rights withdrawn.

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