Welcome to the wonderful world of cargo operation


When you think of Schiphol, you probably imagine planes full of people. But you might not know that we are also a hub for 1.5 million tonnes of cargo: from bouquets for Mother’s Day to medical equipment, and from foodstuffs to zoo animals. Discover what goes on behind the scenes of our complex cargo operations.

Schiphol: logistics hub
Ever order any products from abroad? Your package goes through an intricate web of logistics before the postman delivers it to your door. In addition to the manufacturer, transport companies, handling agents, an airline and airports in two separate countries are involved in the shipping process. This means that Schiphol is one of many links in the chain, and we excel at cargo operations because we work so closely and frequently with a large number of logistics partners. As a result, we have gained considerable expertise and we know how to transport cargo all over the world in the blink of an eye.

Flying animals 
A total of 25 cargo airlines fly to and from Schiphol. The Russian company AirBridge Cargo only carries cargo and is therefore our largest full-freighter airline. A lot of cargo is also carried in the hold of passenger planes (belly freight). This technically makes KLM the largest freight carrier at our airport. There are also a number of airlines that fly combi-aircraft. These aircraft have fewer passenger seats, because there is additional room in the back of the plane for special cargo. It is entirely possible that, without even knowing it, you might be on a flight with a few horses or even exotic animals. 

What type of cargo is the most popular?
You are probably familiar with our country’s most popular export products. Tulips, right? No. Well, then it must be cheese? Wrong again. Actually, it’s peppers! Annually, approximately 31,195 tonnes of peppers are shipped abroad from Schiphol, mainly to the US. When it comes to import, the number one category will also surprise you: flowers. Aircraft carrying flowers to our country mainly come from Kenya and Ecuador. Schiphol and China have a strong cargo network. Shanghai is our most important destination worldwide for inbound and outbound traffic. 

Strange cargo
What are some of the strangest things that we have transported to or from Schiphol in recent years? Interesting objects include a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, priceless works of art by Dutch painters, pandas from China and a Formula 1 car owned by world champion Lewis Hamilton. But none of these things can claim the title of most expensive cargo ever carried. That honorary title goes to Californium 252: a chemical substance worth 27 million dollars per gram.