KLM boss calls for "mature discussion" on Schiphol's growth

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

Pieter Elbers, CEO of KLM, wants to have a "mature discussion" about the possibilities of capacity growth at Schiphol in the coming years. As things stand now, Schiphol will reach its 2020 flight movement limit of 500 thousand a year by next year, meaning that the airport can't grow at all for two years, according to him. "You have to seriously question whether that is wise", Elbers said to Het Parool.

According to him, now that the aviation is in full swing, it is especially important that KLM and its most important partners have space to grow. "The outside wold does not wait until we in the Netherlands are ready for that discussion. I think we should talk about a solution now", Elbers said. The cooperation agreement Air France-KLM recently made with Indian airline Jet Airways underlines this importance, he said. "These kind of alliances are now being forged", Elbers said. "You can't say: the Netherland is not playing along for the next three years. That would really not be good."

Stopping Schiphol's growth also puts interests outside the airport at risk, Elbers added. "The fact that the European medicines agency EMA is coming to Amsterdam has to do with the business climate. For that good connections with the rest of the world are indispensable."

Much has changed in aviation since the current flight limit was agreed upon in 2008, according to the CEO. Planes are cleaner and quieter and emit much less CO2. He believes that this should be enough reason to talk about more flights now, instead of only after 2020. 

Earlier this month Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management presented Schiphol's Usage Forecast 2018 to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. It stated that Schiphol will handle an expected 496 thousand flight movements next year, 4 thousand below the limit.