Schiphol overruled on private jet & overnight flight bans; U.S. warns against slashing flights
The United States is worried about the Dutch government’s plans to shrink Schiphol and what effect that would have on American airlines’ slots at the Amsterdam airport, according to a letter the U.S. Department of Transportation sent to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure, which is in NL Times’ possession.
Sources told the Volkskrant that the Dutch government won’t allow Schiphol to ban night flights and private jets, as the airport planned. The government also weakened its plans for shrinking Schiphol, allowing the Amsterdam airport 452,000 flight movements a year from 2024 instead of 440,000.
In the letter to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the U.S. says that the Netherlands’ plans to shrink Schiphol are in violation of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement. The U.S. is concerned about market access for American carriers. The Dutch government’s plans to cut flight movements “would result in permanent confiscation of historic slot rights held by U.S. carriers,” and the American government is “highly skeptical” that Schiphol would allow new entrants under such circumstances.
The letter suggests that American carriers losing slots at Schiphol would put a strain on the cooperation between Dutch and American airlines. The Department of Transport asked members of the Dutch parliament to declare the matter controversial. That would mean that the collapsed Rutte IV Cabinet can’t work on it, postponing the issue until there is a new Cabinet to deal with it. The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, will discuss which topics are too controversial for the outgoing Cabinet on September 12.
It is unclear whether the government’s reported decision to weaken its shrinking plans is linked to the letter from the Department of Transportation.
The Telegraaf also received a copy of the letter and showed it to KLM. The Dutch airline is concerned. “This would mean that if the Minister persists, KLM would not only have to scrap a number of flights but also cannot choose which ones because countries like the U.S., Canada, China, and Brazil will restrict KLM’s access to their airports,” KLM CEO Marjan Rintel told the newspaper.
The Dutch government wants to reduce the number of annual flights to and from Schiphol to reduce the noise. The airport has been in violation of its environmental permit regarding noise pollution for years. The Netherlands is also working hard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the global effort to limit climate change, and aviation is a polluting industry.
The final draft of a plan to tackle restrictions of flight movements at Schiphol is due to be sent to the European Commission on Friday. However, the U.S. Department of Transportation called on Dutch parliamentarians to declare the issue as being too controversial for the current caretaker Cabinet.
Instead, they want the issue to be taken up by the next Cabinet after it can be further reviewed. The airlines, and many other stakeholders at the airport, are expected to signal similar sentiment. KLM has noted in the past that the required balanced review has not taken into consideration the airline’s fleet improvements, including the current and future acquisition of cleaner, quieter aircraft. KLM is the largest airline operating at Schiphol, and its sister budget airline, Transavia, also has a strong presence at the Amsterdam airport.
The Volkskrant noted that the caretaker Cabinet feels that the issue must be dealt with now, as it will take too long for the next Cabinet to take action. Elections in the Tweede Kamer will take place in November, and then political parties will have to negotiate with each other to form a new coalition in a process expected to take months.