Dutch Government Cuts Amsterdam Schiphol Flights Despite IATA Protest

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport will reduce its annual aircraft movements to 452,500 from 2024 as the government looks to cut noise pollution.

  •  From 2024, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport will limit aircraft movements to 28,700 annually during nighttime hours, with a yearly operations cap of 425,000 movements.
  •  According to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water, the cap could slash noise pollution around the airport by up to 15%, below its overall target of 20%.
  •  The outgoing Rutte government has faced criticism from industry groups, including KLM and the IATA, which has cautioned against rushing its implementation of the policy.

Full (zero-emission) steam ahead

The controversial policy would cap flights out of the Dutch capital at 452,500, nearly 10% below 2019’s movements, in a bid to tackle noise pollution, carbon emissions, and airport overcapacity.

Despite retaining support from the airport and environmental groups, the proposal has sparked backlash from an array of aviation groups and airlines, including flag carrier KLM. The airline slammed the Schiphol cap as “damaging” and “unnecessary.”

Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers has defended the government’s decision, outlining the confirmed flight cap and targets in an update shared on the Ministry’s website.

From 2024, the airport will limit operations between 23:00 and 07:00 to just 28,700 flights per year, a drop from the current maximum 32,000 night flights limit. The overall yearly flight cap will be slashed by almost 50,000 movements to 452,000, as well as reduced use of certain runways to prevent noise pollution to nearby residents.

ccording to the government, the policy will slash noise at the airport by 15% during daytime and 15% during nighttime hours, requiring further efforts to meet the overall 20% reduction in noise pollution. Harbers clarified.

Criticism from airlines

A legal dispute against the flight cap is currently in the appeal stage with the Dutch Supreme Court after the Amsterdam Court of Appeal gave the government the legal go-ahead. Several carriers, including KLM, previously won the case in the District Court of North Holland, citing the government’s failure to adhere to European Union law, before being overruled by the higher court in July.

Recent criticism has centered on the upcoming November snap election following the collapse of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s collation cabinet in July. Rutte, currently serving in a caretaker capacity, is set to step down following the election of a new government.

Earlier this week, the IATA slammed the policy, noting that controversial legislation changes that could damage trade relations and local employment require continued scrutiny and accountability. The statement, shared on Thursday, cautioned of the negative impact on passenger and freight services, spilling over into the Dutch economy. IATA Director General Willie Walsh explained.

By Mian Saeed Ahmed Khan