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Leading lights - September 2016

Jonas van Stekelenburg, Head of Cargo, Schiphol Group

Jonas van Stekelenburg began working for Schiphol Group in its legal department in 2002. In 2004 he was appointed to Schiphol's Indonesian joint venture in Jakarta, where he turned the loss-making consultancy into a profitable company.


As of 2008, Jonas has been driving Innovation and Sustainability programmes at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. These include seed capital initiatives the Mainport Innovation Fund I and II; Incubator programme theGROUNDS; the Air France-KLM BioFuel Programme; the AC Level 3+ (highest ranking hub) Airport Carbon Accreditation of the ACI-branch Association; and the introduction of photovoltaic power production and an electric vehicle fleet.


Jonas was made Head of Cargo at Schiphol Group in August 2015; he is a board member of Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN) and part of the board of commissioners of Cargonaut, the Schiphol data exchange platform. 


How has Schiphol’s cargo business performed so far this year after last year’s near-record traffic and what do you expect for the remaining few months of 2016?


We had a relatively good start to the year with volumes topping 526,707 tonnes for January to April, a 2.3% growth on the same period in 2015. European freight showed the strongest growth in the first four months of 2016, up 38% to 57,437 tonnes compared to 41,490 in the same period in 2015.


Pharma is a particularly interesting sector, rising 12.3%, year-on-year in April, with Middle East traffic seeing the most growth at 16.6%, against 7.3% in Europe. We are confident that we will continue to see growth. This is mainly due to new belly-carriers Jet Airways and Aeroméxico opening at Schiphol this year, and DHL and Delta among others expanding their business.


You’ve been Head of Cargo there for a year now – what have you learned in this role?


I have learned that cargo is a people’s business. It is very important to know everyone and to know what drives business for each player in the airfreight industry. Therefore, cooperation is essential. You may do your job well but that’s not enough, you need all the links in the chain to be performing well to have a good outcome. I have also learned that there is a real drive for improvement in this industry, for better efficiency and
more value.


Are there any particular areas you want to focus on next year – new sectors or regions, new products or offers?


The pharma and perishables business will continue to be very important to us and we will be further developing our offering in those sectors. We will also be focusing on the high tech sector which is a growth market for us.


E-commerce is becoming increasingly important. In both 2014 and 2015 we processed 1.6 million tonnes of cargo. If you look at the customs declarations for that period, we saw a 15-20% increase in e-commerce declarations. What this means is that we are seeing a shift towards smaller shipments. There is a change in the way freight is being brought into the Netherlands, wit e-commerce playing an increasingly large role.


We are working with customs, who we see very much as part of the Schiphol Cargo community, to develop and enhance all aspects in the supply chain to help cargo flow all the more efficiently through the airport.


You’ve also recently introduced new pharma processes – is the pharma sector going to be an important part of the airport’s growth in the years to come?


Pharma Gateway Amsterdam, run in collaboration with the Schiphol Cargo community, is proving fruitful, both in terms of encouraging further pharma freight through Schiphol, and in helping strengthen the Schiphol community. In March we announced that the 13 parties involved with the initiative will obtain their Center of Excellence for Independent Validators in Pharmaceutical Logistics (CEIV Pharma) certificate. The Netherlands is a key point in the western European pharma trade and the opportunities in this growing market are endless. >>

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