Kalitta Air (K4, Detroit Willow Run) said it faces the imminent end of its Amsterdam Schiphol operations and has asked the US Department of Transportation to order Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines, and Virgin Atlantic to make more slots at the airport available to other carriers before they can obtain full antitrust immunity for their joint ventures.

The US cargo specialist said that due to the increasingly difficult access to slots at the Dutch gateway, it currently faces a high risk of not being able to continue its direct services from Amsterdam to New York JFK in the Winter 2019/20 season already.

As such, Kalitta Air seeks assistance from the DOT, which itself has recognised that the combined JV of Air France-KLM, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic will lead to serious competition concerns regarding access to Amsterdam. The three parties together with their Skyteam partners will hold up to 61% of all slots at the airport, including the slots taken over from flybe. (BE, Exeter).

Despite recognising this fact, the DOT did not mandate the JV applicants to release any slots. It also dismissed jetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK) concerns, pointing out that the carrier did not seek immediate access to Amsterdam.

"However, Kalitta is, in fact, seeking slots for use immediately, and is facing eviction from the airport at the end of October if it does not obtain them... A condition of that nature in this case - making slots available to carriers that show that they have exhausted other avenues to obtain slots - would demonstrate the Department's actual concern for its carriers' ability to implement the route right," the cargo specialist said in its DOT request.

Kalitta Air currently operates 2x weekly one-way from Amsterdam to JFK using B747-400(F) equipment. The airline has been involved in a lengthy dispute with the Dutch authorities after it had lost its historic slots due to poor punctuality. Kalitta Air argued that it had no control over the delays as its operations from Amsterdam to JFK were dependent on the timing of flights operated on behalf of the US Department of Defence from the US to the Middle East. It underlined that it operated all flights, although not always within the slot time.

For the time being, Kalitta Air is, in its own words, "left to ask for handouts" regarding slots at Amsterdam airport. While it has secured enough slots for the Summer 2019 season, mostly taking them over on a one-by-one basis from carriers relinquishing their rights, it currently has zero slots for the upcoming winter season.

The airline also added that the adoption of the Local Rule 2 at Amsterdam airport, meant to alleviate the concerns of the carrier earlier this year, did not, in fact, ease the slot access.

For environmental reasons, the Dutch gateway is limited to 500,000 flight movements per year. In 2018, the airport recorded 499,500 movements.