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Schiphol looking to the future after lackluster 2011

By Hpanchal on March 9, 2012

Only two full months into the new year, activity at Schiphol airport is already picking up.  Turf for a new 45-acre Schiphol Logistics Park has just been cut, and the airport's passenger terminals will soon be expanded, which would necessitate moving some cargo terminals farther away from the airport. Finally, the airport's A4 Zone West project, a 141-acre development, is starting to generate momentum.

“We are looking at something like 2016 to initiate this project, which will be aimed at attracting value added businesses,” said Enno Osinga, the airport's senior vice president of cargo. "Importantly, this will also provide us with the opportunity to create a dedicated high-speed rail link for cargo.”

The future, it seems, is a bit brighter than the present. Last year, Amsterdam Schiphol saw only a 0.8-percent, year-over-year, growth in cargo. Even though seemingly every other major European airport experienced a flat or declining 2011, Osinga, isn't celebrating -- he's looking toward the year head.

“It can appear a little crazy at times, when you have to think positive about the future and make critical investment decisions at a time, like now, when the market is down,” Osinga said recently. “It may seem that I am taking my eye off the immediate ball, but I find that my focus is more and more concerned about future cargo activity at Schiphol, rather than what is happening today.”

A 10 percent outage in Far East traffic inflicted the most damage in 2011; those routings critically account for 40 percent of traffic flows. But the Dutch gateway also found itself a victim of the vagaries of the freighter business. According to Osinga, Schiphol can now claim credit for the fact that 58 percent of its cargo business moves on freighter services. The number of overall  freighter flights grew 2.1 percent last year, with new services added by the likes of Saudia, Etihad and Centurion, plus additional flights by AirBridgeCargo. Jade Cargo's suspension, in December, hit Schiphol hard.

Schiphol is now putting the past behind it, embracing the possibilities of future success even as it rides the turbulent seas of the current economy.

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