Amsterdam not unhappy following a record breaker

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Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is remaining optimistic about the strength of its business despite the challenges 2015 has posed so far, James Muir writes.

In the first nine months of 2015, Schiphol has seen volumes fall by 1.4 per cent to just under 1.2 million tonnes, because of the economic slowdown in China and the weakness of the Russian rouble hitting the Dutch flower market. The third quarter was an improvement, down fractionally to 409,034 tonnes, despite Asia dropping by five per cent and Europe falling by 10 per cent.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol director of cargo, Jonas van Stekelenburg tells Air Cargo Week (ACW): “Overall, we are not unhappy: it was always going to be difficult to beat or even match 2014, which was a record year. Schiphol is still some 6.5 per cent above 2013, which is probably a more meaningful indicator.”

Van Stekelenburg is optimistic about the rest of the year. He says: “Recent weeks have shown growth, and unless the industry encounters any unexpected problems next year, we believe Schiphol will continue to consolidate and develop its position while showing gentle but steady growth.”

Flowers remain a large part of Schiphol’s business, helped by its proximity to the FloraHolland auction house. High tech products are of great importance to the airport, van Stekelenburg says about 50 per cent of US and Far Eastern manufacturers have their European distribution centres in the Schiphol catchment area.

Pharma and life sciences is a small but growing area. Despite its value, pharma only represents about five per cent of total volume.

Schiphol is continuing to expand its business with various development projects close to the airport and on site. Van Stekelenburg explains to ACW: “A unique feature of Schiphol among major European airports, is having plentiful land available for development immediately surrounding the airport.”

In the next 18 months the airport will develop Business Park Amsterdam Osdorp, a 43,110 square metre area eight kilometres from the airport, the 25,500 square metre PolanenPark business park located 12 kilometres from Schiphol, Schiphol Logistic Park based one kilometre from the airport, covering 47,660 square metres, President, a 16,694 square metre area three kilometres from the airport, and GreenPark, based three kilometres from Schiphol’s cargo area, covering 132,522 square metres.

Van Stekelenburg says: “We are encouraging the development of mixed-use areas that combine offices, light manufacturing and logistics facilities. This is good for businesses, and is also environmentally responsible by reducing transportation activity and emissions – something we Dutch are passionate about.”

On the airport site, the Joint Inspection Centre will open in 2016. Van Stekelenburg says: “This will revolutionise regulatory checks by bringing all inspection bodies under one roof, and by remote scanner monitoring to reduce the incidence of time-consuming physical inspections.”