How a slot conflict almost turned into financial catastrophe for KLM, what Liege airport got from it and how it fitted in only 2 days - all in this article about AirBridgeCargo’s conflict with Schiphol.
The essence of the conflict
Everything started with the dispute over the provision of slots (time intervals during which the carrier’s aircraft are entitled to take off) at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport of Russia’s largest cargo airline AirBridgeCargo. It arose on October 28 after a regular half-year review of the airport’s tolerances: the slots of the Russian company were cut from 23 to 13.
Airport Coordination Netherlands, the organization responsible for their distribution in Schiphol, said that it had cut the AirBridgeCargo’s slots because it did not fully use the intervals it had allocated. For the third busiest airport in Europe this is an unacceptable luxury. That led to some AirBridgeCargo’s planes flying to Liege instead of Amsterdam.
Fact: Amsterdam Schiphol airport with it’s 6 runaways has room for 138 departures per hour, but because of it’s geographical location even this isn’t enough to handle everyone wanting
The Russian carrier was forced to switch its traffic to the airport of Belgian Liege (LGG) and suffered losses.
However, Henk-Jan van Keulen (Henk-Jan van Keulen), the head of the Dutch division of AirBridgeCargo, in his interview with Reuters, found it difficult to name even their approximate size. The reason for the lower Liège tariffs and the fact that a significant share of the expenses was taken by the partner freight forwarding companies that accept the cargo not in the expected place from the beginning.
A potential Russian ban was able to be a major blow to KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the national carrier of the country, to the local division of the concern Air France-KLM. A significant part of its long-haul business is for flights to China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and also to Kazakhstan, performed over the territory of the Russian Federation. According to the calculations of the publication De Telegraaf, up to 15% of the intercontinental route network would be affected.
Opportunities for Compromise
The Ministry of Transport of the country did not give detailed comments, fearing their negative impact on the negotiations.
The Dutch Pilot Association reported that KLM announced the recruitment of additional pilots for flights to Asia, since in the case of their re-routing the flight time will increase significantly - and require the availability of a replacement crew on board. However, they are believing that the matter will not reach a real ban, since threats to do this are a normal lever for influencing the negotiations of the Russian authorities in cases when their arguments are not heeded.
As a compromise, they transferred part of their AirBridgeCargo.
Fact: the shortest - and in the low-income aviation business the only profitable one - the way from Schiphol to China, Japan and Korea lies over the territory of Russia. Even taking into account commission payments (Transsiberian royalty, introduced for transit flights), it costs less than flights bypassing.
But what is AirBridgeCargo?
AirBridgeCargo (RU) is the main part of the Volga-Dnepr holding.
It has a fleet of 19 transport aircraft, 18 of which - Boeing 747 in various modifications, including the most modern 747-8F. The company is one of the last customers of the cargo Jumbo Jet and is waiting for another 14 aircraft from the Boeing assembly plant in Everett, Washington.
The network of routes covers 24 destinations in 11 countries on 3 continents. The company specializes on regular flights from Chinese airports, Tokyo and Seoul to European hubs Frankfurt, Paris, Milan, London Heathrow and Amsterdam, as well as flights to the USA: trans-Pacific from Asia (via Anchorage) and transatlantic from Europe.
Everything has returned, the sediment remains
The decision in its favor was almost certainly helped by the threat from Russia to close the country’s airspace for all Dutch airlines in the event that no solution is found that satisfies the affected transport workers.
A representative of KLM in an interview with Air Cargo News described the agreement as a “code-sharing” agreement, but details were not disclosed.
What is KLM doing there?
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is the national carrier of the Netherlands and the largest base airline of Schiphol. Of course, it also has the largest amount of slots.
In addition, a significant part of its long-haul business is flights to China, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and also to Kazakhstan, performed over the territory of the Russian Federation. Again, as calculated by the publication De Telegraaf, a Russian ban on the use of airspace could affect up to 15% of the intercontinental route network. As a result of the negotiations, KLM apparently went on to provide part of its AirBridgeCargo slots - and the terms on which the deal is made are a commercial secret of the airlines.
The real winner
Since October 28, when ACNL revised its quotas, the Russian carrier was forced to switch its traffic to Liege airport.
The Belgian airport turned out to be much cheaper - as it was already known - but at the same time it did not give way to Amsterdam in transport accessibility and convenience for the European contractors of the airline.
Now, after the scandal, AirBridgeCargo announces that it will perform up to 12 flights a week in Liege in the winter schedule.
Fact: Liege Airport has two runways and has a capacity of 22 departures per hour. While this with surpluses suffices all comers.
In 2015 the passenger traffic of the airport was 299 292 people, the turnover of goods - 0.65 million tons
WHO YOU THINK WON IN THIS SITUATION?
- Liege airport
based on articles from aeronautical.online
Article 1: https://aeronautica.online/2017/11/01/russian-air-ban-for-klm-over-ams-slots-for-airbridgecargo/
Article 2: https://aeronautica.online/2017/11/07/airbridgecargo-regains-schiphol-slots/
Translated by Alexander Nikitin
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