Schiphol, KLM and ACI Europe criticise government decision to cut flights

By Charlotte Turner |

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS), Dutch carrier, KLM, ACI Europe, among other aviation organisations have all openly criticised the Dutch Government’s decision to reduce flights at the Netherlands hub from 500,000 to 440,000 a year (to be enforced in 2023) in order to more effectively tackle noise and air pollution.


Interestingly, due to staff shortages the airport is warning customers that it is already having to limit the number of travellers that can depart from the airport over the summer months as it wants to avoid ‘extremely long queues and people (almost) missing their flights’.


Home carrier, KLM said the recent decision made by the Dutch Government to significantly reduce flights “will have dramatic consequences for KLM and for the accessibility of the Netherlands, and will not achieve the desired benefits for our climate and quality of life”.


“The decision is in conflict with the government’s coalition agreement in three different ways: it does not tally with the desire to retain a strong hub function for our national economy; it does not support stable and predictable national enterprise; and it fails to improve our quality of life and climate,” added the airline.


Amsterdam Schiphol Airport won the Travel Retail Award for 'Sense of Place' in 2021.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport won the Travel Retail Award for ‘Sense of Place’ in 2021.


In response to the decision, AMS said: “the plans of the cabinet as presented now lead to great uncertainty and much remains unclear. We see that major risks are being taken with regard to the quality of the network. There is also the risk that going back to the old noise system would mean a shift in noise nuisance that would not be beneficial to the surrounding communities.


“It is disappointing that, contrary to the ambition expressed in the coalition agreement, a decision about Lelystad Airport will not be made until 2024. We hope this can be done sooner.”

Schiphol to consult with Dutch Government

AMS said it plans consult with the cabinet to contribute to such a well-thought-out approach.


“We are in favour of a well-thought-out approach that leads to the intended goal: connecting the Netherlands with the world as an increasingly quieter and cleaner Schiphol.


“This provides certainty and perspective for all stakeholders involved – local residents, governments and the aviation sector. We will continue to invest in that balance. This approach includes a nature permit and an airport traffic decree (‘luchthavenverkeersbesluit’) , which is currently being worked on.”


For its part, KLM said it is investing millions in a more sustainable fleet, thereby fulfilling its agreements with the government.


The decision to reduce capacity at the airport will affect retailers and F&B operators.

The government’s decision to reduce capacity at the airport will impact its retailers and F&B operators off the back of an extremely challenging couple of years.

“The government projected a future with 540,000 aircraft movements,” said KLM. “Cutting back to 440,000 amounts to a 20% reduction. These cutbacks are announced without prior deliberation and proper argumentation. Apart from today’s announcement, KLM has not received any written notification or clear plans. KLM looks forward to receiving further details and will, in the meantime, consider what steps it may take in response.”


KLM is urging the government to take measures that will effectively improve sustainability, such as supporting the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the realisation of a Single European Sky that would reduce CO2 emissions by 10%.


Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI Europe also commented. “In so many ways, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is what makes the Netherlands bigger than it is. From that standpoint, there is no doubt that the decision of the Government to significantly reduce the capacity of the airport will make the Netherlands smaller.”


Based on ACI Europe’s just released Airport Industry Connectivity Report 2022, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol this year ranks as number one in Europe in terms of direct air connectivity, and number 3 (just behind Frankfurt and Istanbul) for hub connectivity levels.


“At the same time, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a leader in sustainability – not only committed but working hard to reduce the environmental footprint of the airport and its operations, striving to become a zero-emission airport,” added ACI.


Amsterdam Airport Schiphol features in TRBusiness’ Top 10 Airports report to be published in the June/July ezine.


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