Schiphol growth plans must change if Lelystad doesn't open in time: CEO

Crowded Schiphol Airport; 12 Feb 2018
Crowded Schiphol Airport; 12 Feb 2018Photo: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

If Lelystad Airport can't take over some of Schiphol's air traffic by April next year as planned, the growth limits currently set at the busy Amsterdam airport will have to be changed, Schiphol CEO Jos Nijhuis said at the presentation of the airport's annual figures on Friday. 

"If Lelystad can not be filled in, new agreements have to be made. Because we need the capacity that Lelystad would deliver. I want to keep to these agreements, but then Lelystad has to open", Nijhuis said, according to Het Parool. "I understand that this is a concern for those living around Schiphol. But if the government can not deliver Lelystad, then the agreement that was made at the Alders table in 2008 must be adjusted. That is also part of the deal."

This agreement states that Schiphol is limited to 500 thousand flight movements a year until 2020, a limit the airport is very close to reaching. The plan is to have Lelystad Airport take over some of Schiphol's flights, mostly holiday flights to European destinations, so that Schiphol still has room for expansion. Last year Schiphol invested 32 million euros into rebuilding Lelystad Airport so that it can handle this flight traffic.

Lelystad Airport is scheduled to start taking over Schiphol flights in April 2019, but there is a lot of resistance to this happening. There is currently a motion in the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, to postpone the opening indefinitely until there is more clarity about how air traffic will be handled. 

Schiphol made 280 million euros in profit last year, considerably less than the year before, Het Parool reports. The airport's costs increased by almost 10 percent because of investment in Lelystad Airport, the construction of an emergency terminal, and changes to security checks and extra staff hired after massive passenger flows caused a crisis at Schiphol during the May holidays.

Last year Schiphol invested a total of 490 million euros, compared to 303 million euros in 2016. The costs to manage passenger crowds were not passed on to passengers or airlines, but carried by Schiphol itself. 

Schiphol's turnover increased by 2 percent to 1.5 billion euros last year. And despite the lower profits, the airport can also pay more dividends. As a shareholder, Amsterdam will receive 30 million euros in profit sharing this year, according to the newspaper.