Schiphol, Lelystad flight sharing gets EU green light

After two years of haggling between The Hague and Brussels, the European Commission approved the regulation that makes it possible to distribute flights between Schiphol and Lelystad Airport, NOS reports based on a draft decision in its possession. The proposal was submitted to all European Union Member States, and they agreed to it unanimously, according to the broadcaster.

The regulation is meant to take some pressure off the already crowded Amsterdam airport, by moving holiday flights to Lelystad Airport. It states that airlines that are prepared to give up flight slots at Schiphol will be given priority at Lelystad. The condition is that they return the flight slots to Schiphol's slot coordinator, or use them for their own transfer flights. This is valid for a total of 25 thousand flights per year, with an evaluation following after three years. 

Whether the regulation will be effective, remains to be seen. In the draft decision the European Commission explicitly wrote that airlines can not be forced to leave Schiphol. So far only Transavia indicated its willingness to give up flights at Schiphol. Transavia's parent company KLM can then use those slots for new transfer flights. Airlines TUI and EasyJet indicated that they want to stay at Schiphol. And Corendon said it would consider moving to Lelystad under certain conditions. 

Brussels agreeing to allow this regulation means that a major obstacle to opening Lelystad Airport has been overcome. But it is not the only obstacle. Resident groups in Gelderland and Overijssel want the airport to remain closed until the airspace has been re-divided and the planned low-flying routes have been scrapped

Lelystad Airport was initially scheduled to open in April of this year. The opening was delayed to April 2020, but Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management already let go of that opening date, according to NOS.

The European Commission will publish its formal decision before the end of this month.