Full freighter slot challenges and weakening global air cargo market impact results: Schiphol’s year-end figures decline

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s (AAS) total cargo volume for 2019 declined by nine per cent to 1.57 million tonnes compared to 2018, as reduced full freighter flights and a weaker global air cargo market affected the figures.

The year-end results revealed that inbound cargo volumes declined 9.8 per cent to 791,613 tonnes and outbound cargo volumes decreased 7.2 per cent to 778,648 tonnes.

Last year, full freighter volume fell by 13.2 per cent to 0.85 million tonnes partially due to an 11.2 per cent fall in air transport movements (ATM), while belly cargo volumes dropped 2.3 per cent to 0.72 million tonnes, despite ATMs increasing 1.5 per cent.

The three largest destination for cargo tonnage were Shanghai, Moscow and Nairobi.

“The figures in 2019 were in line with our expectations as we continue to face full freighter slot challenges, on top of a weakening of the global air cargo market,” said Maaike van der Windt, Director Aviation Marketing, Cargo and Customer Experience, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

“Operating in a slot constrained environment is challenging and it is having an impact on our results.”

Freighter flights

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is seeking a resolution with the Dutch government to better maintain full freighter flights.

“Our main priority is to maintain full freighters and we are looking into a more structural solution as full freighter flights are critical for our intercontinental destinations,” said van der Windt.

Despite the challenges, van der Windt is slightly optimistic for the airport’s prospects in 2020 as operating under slot restricted conditions has led to a rethink of how it conducts business.

The operating environment has resulted in a revised cargo approach to maintain full freighters and the main focus is to maintain and grow the existing cargo network.

“Furthermore, to utilise the maximum capacity available on planes we are focusing on that capacity is as full as possible, which will result in a more sustainable approach towards the business of cargo,” said van der Windt.

Industry challenges

The year-end figures revealed a decrease in volumes across all markets, apart from an increase in the Middle East inbound segment.

Outbound traffic to the Asian region was down 14.11 per cent to 260,245 tonnes and inbound declined 10.32 per cent to 268,242 tonnes.

The outbound North American market fell 2.2 per cent to 164,603 tonnes, while inbound was down 14.24 per cent to 112,019 tonnes.

Cargo inbound to Latin America declined 11.35 per cent to 115,506 tonnes and outbound dropped 6.28 per cent to 76,159 tonnes.

European figures show outbound traffic fell 2.3 per cent to 119,635 tonnes and inbound decreased 8.49 per cent to 106,480 tonnes.

The Middle East market inbound market showed a positive story as inbound was up 4.67 per cent to 93,089 tonnes, but outbound was down 3.77 per cent to 106,178 tonnes.

Outbound traffic to Africa was down 2.95 per cent to 51,828 tonnes and inbound declined 14.31 per cent to 96,278 tonnes.


As part of the new cargo approach in 2020, AAS will also increase the focus on sustainability to ensure the future of cargo. A key strand of this is to further expand collaboration in the cargo community to develop even smarter and greener freight operations.

“We continue to focus on working together as a community and are focusing on data and digitalization in order to be ready for the years to come in which our ambition is to be a high quality and sustainable airport,” said van der Windt.

“Sustainability is fundamental for the future success of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and with the revision of the Smart Cargo Mainport Program (SCMP), plus the support of our partners, we are confident we can reach our goal of becoming the smartest and most sustainable cargo hub in Europe.”

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