Lessons learnt at Amsterdam Schiphol Air Cargo Netherlands webinar

DURING the Covid-19 pandemic, some fortunes have plummeted while others have thrived in Amsterdam Schiphol's air cargo community, reports London's Airport Technology

10 June 2020 - 19:06
DURING the Covid-19 pandemic, some fortunes have plummeted while others have thrived in Amsterdam Schiphol's air cargo community, reports London's Airport Technology.

The global economy contracted of 4.3 per cent while the Eurozone and US contracted between seven per cent and eight per cent, Dutch banking giant ING's senior economist Rico Luman told the Air Cargo Netherlands webinar.

Mr Luman also noted a correlation between world trade, which has endured a nine per cent contraction due to the pandemic.

'Air freight goods flow in a more cyclical way so when we're looking at the future, we can expect quite an early recovery,' he said.

Some air freight sectors plummeted while others have thrived. Some 300 members from the Holland International Distribution Council (HIDC), whose aim is to attract cargo flows and logistics operation to the Netherlands, painted a mixed picture, said the report.

HIDC managing director Remco Buurman said some industries such as life science, agro-food or e-commerce have done really well during the pandemic, while others including flowers and fashion have done very poorly.

'Some of them mentioned they had the best months ever,' Mr Buurman said.

Overall there was an increased positive attitude towards air cargo, with HIDC members hoping to get more air freight slots at Schiphol in the future, he said.

According to Bucks Consultant international senior consultant Arjen Donkersloot, the Dutch Government's Civil Aviation Policy memorandum, to be implemented in 2021, will have a significant impact on air cargo.

The document states that unchecked growth is no longer possible and introduces conditions for aviation to grow in harmony with the public interest, which, in the case of air freight, means changes in the licences to operate for air freight.

According to Mr Donkersloot, out of the four factors that will determine the air freight sector's licences to operate - safety, economic relevance, environment and sustainability - the economy and sustainability will have the biggest impact.

'If the sector starts these initiatives by itself, it could tell the government that it wants to take the lead and foster initiatives towards a more sustainable air freight sector, without the need for specific taxes,' Mr Donkersloot said.

Aviation researcher at Rotterdam's Erasmus University Floris de Haan has studied the four phases of the pandemic, trying to predict how they have and will impact air cargo.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a global economic crisis, with the economy reaching a standstill in Europe around March. As travel restrictions were implemented by countries to stop the virus from spreading, the demand for air cargo was significantly reduced.

Then despite ample capacity at airports, the rates for sending cargo quintupled. 'Sending cargo from the US's east coast cost US$10 per kilogramme, as compared to $2,' Mr de Haan said.

If passenger demand goes up, there will be less need for full freighter aircraft as demand will be satisfied by belly capacity. If passenger demand remains on lockdown level, the industry will favour full freighters. 'There are a lot of unknowns and this is maybe not what you wanted to hear from me but no one has a crystal ball,' Mr de Haan concluded.

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