Ever since Amsterdam Schipol reached its maximum annual capacity in late 2017, there’s been huge pressure on the cargo sector, as they’re made to effectively give up their slots for the resident KLM Cargo and Martinair operations to maintain theirs, and the passenger airlines are prioritised.
This has already caused one near international incident with the Russians – they threatened to block KLM from their air space in 2017/18 if the airport didn’t give back slots to Air Bridge Cargo. Eventually, KLM relented – despite the government and airport refusing to do so.
Kalitta Air is now up in arms about having its twice weekly slots to the airport cut because – and it admits it does this – it never gets there on time. Under the slot rules, if you don’t use your slots 80% of the time, you loose it. It’s allowed a 20% variance but is well above that figure. It says it’s not its fault as the Kalitta Air flights are military support in Afghanistan, Qatar and Iraq and subject to military commanders deciding when they leave.
Oddly enough that’s not something the Schipol authorities are willing to take into consideration as they’re a civil operation, so Kalitta Air have filed a complaint with the US authorities who have asked for written arguments from both sides before raising it with the European Union, in whose ultimate jurisdiction this lies because of the Open Skys agreement between the two sides.
However the slot control is still down to the Dutch Government in the end, but day to day, is overseen by an airport administrator.
Kalitta claims its simply uncompetitive and unfair, and that it’s the only US airline that operates a scheduled cargo service into Schipol, as it has for 15 years. Kalitta are demanding KLM Cargo and Martinair operations are denied access to the US until its resolved, which isn’t likely.
The problems around Schipol and slots are becoming markedly more conflicted as passenger flights and demand, push out more and more cargo operations, with little sign that the local population will ever agree to more slots, or further airport expansion.
Over 15,000 jobs depend on cargo at Schipol so there’s many reasons to make sure it works smoothly.