In a dramatic turnaround following two days of negotiations, KLM has surrendered to demands from the Russian Government. It turns out KLM were clouding the issue when they said the Tass statement saying they had given in and provided Air Bridge Cargo slots from their own was fake news. For once it wasn’t, because thats exactly what has happened.
“This agreement will allow ABC to fully re-establish its operations to Schiphol,” said the Russian carrier.
However KLM doesn’t have the power to make the agreement – slot use at Schipol is controlled by the Slot Co-ordinators, much as most large airports are. The Final Co-ordinator for Schipol, Caroline Ditvoorst, told a Dutch publication, NRC.nl, that she was “concerned” over the allocation of slots to ABC. “If Russia gets away with it, it will be happening more often. There is a risk that parties will try this at other European airports as well. It is incorrect that Russia connects slots and traffic rights. It is special that the (Russian) ministry is involved. “
Her point is key – slots at airports are totally different to the Nine Freedoms and Russia has bullied its way into winning this argument. There’s been no comment from the Dutch Government. Frankly I’m not entirely sure this is over. If KLM is only lending ABC slots, what happens when it wants them back?
KLM has given in to blackmail, and has in effect appeased the Russian Government. This is no way to do business. ABC has powerful backers in a country heavily sanctioned for aggressive behaviours. Loosing Dutch cargo rights at Schipol would have been another step to annoy an already irritated Russia, but it was of their own doing. ABC was fully supported by its Government, where were the Dutch authorities?