Cabinet wants 50,000 fewer flights at Schiphol annually: Report
The ruling Cabinet of the Netherlands could impose a minimum 10 percent cut to the number of flight movements allowed at Schiphol Airport, sources close to the government told the Telegraaf on Thursday. The purpose is not only to resolve the ongoing crowds at the airport while Schiphol suffers from a staff shortage, but also due to pollution caused by the airport and airplanes, and the need for new nature permits. The Cabinet also wants to provide more relief for area residents long suffering from excessive noise.
The airport is allowed a maximum of about 500,000 flight movements per year, though that was just 280,500 in 2021 and 236,000 the year before due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from Statistics Netherlands. During the first four months of this year year, the airport saw a surge in travel, with over 114,000 flight movements. Between January and April 2021, the total number of flights at Schiphol was below 51,500.
Schiphol Airport needs new nature permits that will require the airport to comply with new nitrogen emissions standards. The airport's permit application was also challenged by environmental groups. Area residents have also long been concerned with the consequences to their health caused by airport pollution, as well as the noise generated by airport operations. Diverting flights to different runways could reduce noise pollution for some, but that may just push the problem into different communities.
The number of flights allowed at the airport could even fall by 80,000 per year, a source told the newspaper. The cuts are likely to be a long-term measure, though it could cause political turmoil with parties that are pro-business, specifically the VVD. Both Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Mark Harbers, the infrastructure and water management minister, are members of the VVD. The implementation of cuts at Schiphol is part of the portfolio that Harbers manages.
Harbers is consulting with political factions of the Tweede Kamer on the issue, the Telegraaf reported. A decision on cuts to flight operations is likely before the summer. “The coalition agreement states that the Cabinet will make a decision this year about the future of Schiphol. On the one hand, this concerns preserving our international airport with a good network of destinations worldwide. On the other hand, attention must be paid to the adverse consequences of aviation in the vicinity of Schiphol. I'm working on that assignment. It's complex. I will take the necessary amount of time to make a careful decision,” Harbers told the newspaper.