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Freighter influx can’t offset cargo decline at Schiphol airport

All-cargo flights dominate first half of year at Holland's Schiphol airport. (Photo: Amsterdam Schiphol Airport)

Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam witnessed a nearly 50% rise in freight flights for the first half of the year, but this traffic was not enough to counter the dramatic drop in cargo transported in the bellies of passenger planes grounded by coronavirus travel restrictions.

Despite a 12.4% increase in all-cargo volume to 463,679 tons, the Amsterdam airport said Monday that cargo throughput had fallen 14.5% because passenger traffic virtually disappeared in March when COVID-19 surged in Europe. The number of passenger flights with lower-deck cargo dropped 51.6% compared to the first six months of 2019, wiping out 46% of passenger cargo.

Inbound cargo volumes fell 11.5% to 341,130 tons, and outbound cargo volumes fell 17.6% to 314,812 tons, the Dutch airport authority said on Monday.

Schiphol was the fourth-largest airport for cargo in Europe during 2019, according to Airports Council International.

Business to all regions was impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. North American airfreight was down about 17% in both directions.

Airport officials are not sure how Schiphol’s cargo prospects will change during the second half of the year with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting overseas markets differently.

Shanghai remained Schiphol’s single largest cargo destination during the six-month period.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to a shift in cargo flows and some usually high-volume verticals have decreased, such as the import and export of flowers,” said Bart Pouwels, the airport authority’s head of cargo.

Airport officials say they are seeing passenger flights increase as Europe begins to reopen its borders, which means more cargo opportunities for shippers.

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Click for more FreightWaves/American Shipper articles by Chris Gillis.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.