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Dutch government plans to cut Amsterdam airport's flights

September 1, 2023

Currently, the Schiphol Airport accommodates around 500,000 flights a year, but the Dutch government wants it to be capped at 452,500. Airlines are challenging the move.

A KLM flight takes off from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport
KLM called the cap "incomprehensible" and said implementing it would damage the Netherlands.Image: JEFFREY GROENEWEG/ANP/picture alliance

The government in the Netherlands pressed ahead Friday with a plan to reduce the number of flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport from next year.

The announcement was made despite strong opposition from airlines that use the airport, one of Europe's busiest aviation hubs.

The government plans to reduce noise pollution and CO2 emissions by cutting the number of flights from 500,000 to 452,500 annually from November 2024. That is 9.5% below 2019 levels and lower than a previous proposal of 460,000.

"Aviation can bring the Netherlands a lot that's good, as long as we pay attention to the negative effects for people that live near the airport," Transport Minister Mark Harbers said.

The cap still needs approval from the European Commission.

Airlines question announcement ahead of election

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged the Dutch caretaker government not to proceed with the plan ahead of a national election in November.

"In a few months' time, this government will not be accountable for the severe consequences that may follow from the Schiphol decision, particularly with respect to relations with the Netherlands' trading partners, and lost jobs and prosperity at home," IATA said in a statement.

KLM chief executive Marjan Rinte also questioned the timing of the announcement.

"It's hard to imagine such a drastic decision being taken by an outgoing government," she said, referring to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte's now-defunct coalition.

Legal fight against flight cap

Airlines, including Air France-KLM, opposed to the cap appealed to the Dutch Supreme Court to overturn a July ruling by the Amsterdam Court of Appeal to green-light the Dutch government's moves.

The Amsterdam Court of Appeal overturned a lower court decision that concluded in April the government of the Netherlands did not follow the correct procedure when it told Schiphol last year to cut flights.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte previously said the US Department of Transport had sent the Dutch government a letter airing concerns about the cap, which he said would be addressed.

lo/jcg (AFP, Reuters, AP)