ISTANBUL – A new episode is about to begin in the legal dispute between the Dutch government, airlines, and civil aviation organizations over the flight cap at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS). The parties will now attend a hearing on June 21 to defend their cases.
On April 5, 2023, a judge in Haarlem, a city close to Schiphol, ruled that the Dutch government cannot order AMS to reduce the number of flights from 500,000 per year to 460,000. Besides the proposed cap, the airport had previously announced plans to phase out all flights between midnight and 05:00, ban private jets and the noisiest planes, and shelve a project for an additional runway.
A week later, on April 11, Mark Harbers, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management filed a letter in the country’s House of Representatives, announcing the intention to appeal the ruling, alleging that “the ruling is not in the interest of the people living near Schiphol.”
If the appeal proves to be successful, it provide grounds to reduce the Summer 2024 capacity in the airport, one of Europe’s busiest aviation hubs.
Amsterdam Schiphol has been forced to reduce the number of flights several times last year due to the absence of staff to ensure security, following layoffs that happened at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The airport has closed a very poor 2022, with the Royal Schiphol Group reporting a loss of €28 million in 2022, despite a strong recovery in passenger traffic.
Need for Clarity
In a regional update session during the first day of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting, Rafael Schvartzman, Regional Vice President for Europe, IATA, the issue “matters to the industry a great deal for several reasons, including the need for clarity of the application of the balanced approach in international and European law.”
Schvartzman said that the cut would reduce Schiphol’s slots, with airlines losing their rights to operate them. IATA warned that as there is no precedent or methodology in place, it will be challenging to ensure fairness while preventing loss of connectivity. The executive further warned that consumer choice and competition will also be hampered as new operators that were hoping to obtain slots at Schiphol now will be unable to get them.
Featured image: In recent months, operations at KLM’s biggest base, Amsterdam (AMS), have been affected by strikes and a lack of staff. Photo: KLM