History part 3: Martinair Cargo ‘decimated’
Where did it go wrong? Opinions are divided and the emotions sometimes run high. I think there were three main causes, besides of course, an economic crisis and some bad luck.
Firstly: The European Commission blocked a take-over off all the shares by KLM in 1999. Since it was no longer clear to the remaining shareholders which strategy had to be pursued, large investments were abandoned. As a result, capital gradually seeped out while the fleet was coming of age, which in itself made new investments increasingly difficult.
Secondly: While the aviation industry made the transition to online ticket sales around the year 2000, Martinair passage ignored the rise of the internet. Due to the increasing competition from low-cost carriers in Europe, driven by comparison sites on the Internet, Martinair had to (literally) take her flight to intercontinental destinations, like the Dutch Caribbean.
In 2008, Martinair became a 100% subsidiary of AF/KLM after all. But soon thereafter the decision was made that Martinair passage had no longer added value within the group and in September 2010 it had to cease its passenger operations. It started to specialize in flying full freighters.
Thirdly: Martinair had a fantastic network of shippers world wide. But the KLM cargo transport strategy is in order of priority: first 'belly', then 'combi' and finally 'full freight'. So it happened that a Martinair cargo load was flown from Costa Rica to Curaçao (with a hired 727 from Amerijet) to make the KLM flight to Amsterdam more cost-effective. While at the same time, a half-empty Martinair MD-11F full freighter flew from Costa Rica to Amsterdam.
Martinair was for sale in 2014, but it never came to an agreement with a buyer. To ensure continuity, the KLM Cargo and Martinair Cargo fleet was integrated in 2015. Due to difficult market conditions, but also due to mutual competition and disputes within the group, the production of the once-proud Martinair is more or less decimated in 2018.
The name and logo will continue to live on in the Martinair Flight Academy and in the historical DC-3 PH-DDZ (“Sleeping Beauty” is currently stored in full vintage MAC livery), the Dove PH-MAD (in the first MAC colours. This aircraft is originally Royal Navy C.20 Sea Devon, XJ350) and the Dove 6 nose section (originally G-AMFU, OO-SCD), named after Martin Schröder, all to be admired in the Aviodrome Aviation Theme Park at Lelystad Airport.
Finally there is also a Dove in the Malaga Airport Museum, with a kind of MAC painting and the (incorrect) registration PH-VLA, to commemorate that MAC was one of the first foreign companies to carry out tourist flights on the now so popular Spanish destination. The Dove on Malaga is not an old MAC aircraft, but in fact ex. CN-MBA from the Royal Moroccan Air Force, and N9888A of Visionary (last flight 1987). There are plans to equip the aircraft with a different painting after upcoming restoration....