Creating a sustainable air cargo future for the next generation: Transform air freight

At Schiphol Cargo we are always looking for new innovations and strongly believe in supporting the next generation of cargo professionals.

One aspiring cargo expert is Jeroen de Wit, a recent Masters degree graduate in Transport and Supply Chain Management from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, with plans to transform air freight into a more efficient and sustainable transportation mode, through utilising belly capacity.

While writing a thesis on improving belly freight performance, de Wit conducted research at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s ACC department, with support from the Cargo and Traffic Analysis & Forecasting (TAF) teams.

“The capacity constraints faced by the airport have led to a decline in full-freighter movements and cargo volumes,” said de Wit.

“To retain the strong position of Schiphol, sustainable growth opportunities using existing capacity as efficiently as possible are being investigated, such as utilising the available belly space of passenger aircraft for transporting additional freight.

“My research aimed to identify destinations in Schiphol’s extensive route network where un-used belly capacity and latent demand for air cargo coincide.”

To conduct the research, de Wit used quantitative methods to gain fact-based results and reliable data from historical flights.

“The research clearly showed that there is a lot of potential for better utilising the capacity of bellies, for they are currently only around 60 per cent full on average,” de Wit explained.

“Moreover, departing flights, or exports, tend to perform better than arriving flights – imports - and significant differences exist between continents.

“Many destinations that have a low belly load factor feature ample demand for air cargo, and talks with airline representatives are planned for materialising this potential.”

The results from the research show the potential available for airlines to utilise their belly capacity, but it also revealed the complex world of air cargo.

“There are many different stakeholders, all with different interests and needs,” he said.

“Changing things on one side of the process will always impact other parts of the chain as everything is interconnected.

“It is therefore of paramount importance to keep an eye on the bigger picture and try to optimise the entire process, instead of just one small part locally.”

Now that university is finished for de Wit, he has ambitious plans to forge a successful career in aviation, and hopes to further contribute to the sector in the future.

“My time at Schiphol also marked the end of my Masters degree, and if there’s one thing confirmed during the internship, it’s that my passion truly lies in aviation,” he added.

“After graduating, I’m going to pursue a career in this global, dynamic and magical industry, and I really hope I can contribute to making air travel more efficient and sustainable in the future - the sky is the limit.”