Why cargo is more important now than ever

People aren’t often aware that we transport both cargo and travellers at Schiphol. Normally you see so many people at our airport that you forget that cars, flowers, vegetables, fruit and more arrive at Schiphol – as well as the most important item of all at the moment: medical equipment like face masks, protective eyewear and gloves. 

Around 1.6-million tonnes of cargo is transported through Schiphol each year – equivalent to the weight of 425,000 elephants, which is quite hard to imagine! There are fewer travellers departing and landing at Schiphol now, which means that planes that are usually full of passengers are currently staying put. Some slots (which are the times an airline gets to depart or land at our airport) that are currently unused by airlines to transport travellers are now in use for cargo flights.

Face masks and other medical equipment
Medical equipment usually makes up around 4% of cargo at Schiphol. Normally, medical cargo is transported overseas. Plane transport is now preferred because it’s much quicker. We have already welcomed quite a few planes filled with thousands of face masks at Schiphol. We process flights with medical equipment as quickly as possible after they land, even if other cargo flights came in earlier. The medical equipment goes directly into trucks and are driven to the places where they are most needed.

Extra cargo flights at Schiphol
250 cargo flights on average land every week at Schiphol. That number has increased to 360 cargo flights per week since the corona crisis began. Cargo is loaded in a full freighter, which is a plane that can only be used to transport cargo, or it goes into the belly of the plane. ‘Belly freight’ is loaded into a regular plane that usually transports people. These seats are currently often empty since people are travelling in very small numbers now. Some airlines even put cargo on the passenger seats, so more cargo can be transported.

Cargo is now more important than ever, since we desperately need the medical equipment – and we need it fast. That’s why Schiphol is happy to accommodate extra cargo flights at our airport. We can beat this virus and rise again, together.