Creating strong trade lanes between India & Europe

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has been fostering Indian cargo industry to develop its trade with Europe, especially in the pharma sector. One such step taken recently was the MoU signed between Delhi International Airport (DIAL) and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Bart Pouwels, Director Business Development Cargo at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, says Schipol Cargo has been bullish on Indian market and looks for more such opportunities.    Jasleen Kaur

To begin with, could you please brief us on the recently signed MoU with DIAL to work together on the promotion of cargo business? What prompted you to sign this pact? What is the plan of action?
The scope of recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with DIAL includes business promotion, product development, knowledge sharing, training, performance benchmarking and regulatory agency cooperation. The MoU is intended to enhance Delhi’s and India’s logistic capabilities at a global level.
We signed this agreement because we believe that partnership with like-minded airports will enable us to create strong, efficient trade lanes. Delhi has a particular appeal to us, as it is one of very few airports around the world which has demonstrated its commitment to cargo, by putting in place a dedicated cargo department, and setting a strategy for growth.

As you mentioned that this MoU will help Delhi’s and India’s logistics capabilities to strengthen at a global level, could you please detail us how will it help the Indian air cargo industry?
The Indian air cargo industry is young and enthusiastic, and Schiphol is eager to share the lessons it has learned as a mature and well-established major gateway. In particular, we have made tremendous progress with trade facilitation through close collaboration with our government and customs, leading to great strides in the optimisation of cargo processing. Without any wish to sound conceited, we believe we have much to teach and to share.

One of the learning which Indian airports can learn from Schiphol airport is handling of pharma products. Schiphol airport has been quite active in handling of pharma products and DIAL is bullish on strengthening pharma cargo business. How will this partnership help in strengthening pharma logistics?
Pharma traffic demands the very best of airfreight: speed, security, transparency and the utmost care in handling. By working with our own community, helping them to meet with pharma producers, and understanding the special needs of this sector, we have created a hub that is ideal for pharma traffic. But each airfreight trade lane must function as a seamless link in the supply chain, in order to deliver what pharma manufacturers demand. This is a job of collaboration between airports at origin and destination, working together to ensure that standards are uniform and that inefficiencies are eradicated.

How important is pharma business from India into Schiphol?
The Netherlands accounted for almost 10 percent of all EU pharma trade in 2014, with a total of 29,000 tonnes (import 15,000, export 14,000), up eight percent on the previous year. The Netherlands’ pharma trade with India in 2014 was 1,250 tonnes (up 50 percent), with imports totaling to 900 tonnes (+78 percent) and exports at 350 tonnes (+9 percent). Our country incidentally showed the second highest growth in Indian pharma imports in the whole of the EU in 2014. These figures are point-to-point, and exclude transshipments via Schiphol. These may appear small tonnages within our total of 1.6 million tonnes of airfreight, but in commodity value terms, as well as value to the logistics community, this business is very attractive and consequently very important to us.

What facilities can Schiphol airport offer to the air cargo companies flying into Amsterdam from India?
As an airport, Schiphol is unique in Europe in having five main runways, and unlimited land for expansion of related activities such as logistics. In specific airfreight terms, we already have an impressive array of frequent international air services that create interline opportunities over Schiphol to other major markets like the USA and Central/South America. And, for manufacturers of pharma products, we have a broad community of logistics service providers and road feeder operators whose collective resources are impressive, and which provide easy and efficient connections across the whole of Europe.

What are your future plans to and from India to Amsterdam?
Schiphol is not directly involved in any physical aspect of airfreight, but we take a very active role in process optimisation to enhance the customer experience here and marketing to support our logistics community and carriers in securing the maximum possible share of available traffic. India features highly in our plans.
What is the total payload you have from Amsterdam to India and back?
At present, we have daily KLM A330s to provide frequency, and Singapore Airlines (with 2-3 x 747Fs per week) as well as Cathay Pacific (with 2 x weekly B747Fs) to provide bulk capacity. We hope that recently-halted Martinair freighters will also be replaced by alternatives in the near future.

In general, how does Amsterdam Schiphol view India as an air cargo market?
We believe India is one of the most exciting opportunities in the world of airfreight. It is already showing its potential as a pharma manufacturing centre, and this alone will continue to grow at its current impressive rate. We continue to invest considerable time and effort in exploring mutual opportunities with our many friends in India. The more we assist India with our knowledge and experience, the faster its airfreight market will grow, to our mutual benefit.