KLM leader wants cheap airlines out of Amsterdam's airport

KLM Boeing 737-700, PH-BGP at Schiphol Airport
KLM Boeing 737-700, PH-BGP at Schiphol AirportSaschaporsche / Wikimedia Commons

KLM CEO Pieter Elbers wants budget airlines out of Schiphol. The Amsterdam airport is at risk of losing its position as an international flight junction due to all the space given to cheap airlines, he said in an interview with the Volkskrant.

The many budget airlines that have spots at Schiphol means that the airport is becoming internationally less well connected, Elbers said. The CEO warns that international companies may leave Schiphol, or pass over it, if the airport's international connections decline due to too many cheap holiday flights. It also puts pressure on KLM's growth and expansion, as Schiphol is bound to a maximum number of flights. 

At the very least, cheap airlines should give up part of their Schiphol flights if they want to fly from the renewed Lelystad Airport when it opens in two years' time, Elbers said.

According to Elbers, Schiphol is not keeping to the so-called 'preferential policy' agreed upon 10 years ago. "The growth at Schiphol was supposed to come primarily from air connections that add something to the intercontinental network. KLM and its partners are the main providers of such flights. But that preferential policy has come to nothing." Instead Schiphol attracted budget airlines by giving financial support to companies that want to open routes, according to him. "That is the opposite of what we agreed."

"For foreign companies, accessibility is an important reason to settle in Amsterdam", Elbers said to the newspaper. "Companies like the Chinese Huawei or Japanese Yamaha put their European headquarters here because they can reach the whole world from Schiphol. They really did not come to the Netherlands because of the nice weather."

This is not the first time Elbers complained about budget airlines at Schiphol Airport. He made similar statements to newspaper AD in January of this year. The Tweede Kamer - the lower house of Dutch parliament - is debating aviation policy next week.