Over 68 million fly through Schiphol as KLM sets passenger record

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

The main airports in the Netherlands recorded a significant raise in the number of travelers flying to and from the country. Last year, 68.4 million travelers flew from, to or via Schiphol, representing a rise of 7.7% relative to 2016. Meanwhile, the airport's largest airline, KLM, welcomed a record 32.7 million passengers aboard its 2017 flights.

"In 2017, KLM was able to expand its network by 15 destinations to meet its customers’ needs. This brought the total number of KLM destinations to 165 worldwide," said KLM President and CEO Pieter Elbers in a written statement. "This is a marvelous milestone and I am sincerely grateful to our passengers and our customers," he added, noting that when combined with KLM-owned Transavia there was a four percent increase in passengers to 41.6 million.

There were a total of 496,747 air transport movements at Schiphol to 326 destinations in 2017, an increase of 3.7% compared to 2016. The amount of movements is very close to the maximum limit of 500 thousand flights allowed until 2020. The demand for take off and landing slots is outpacing supply, which Schiphol wants to manage by transferring flights to the proposed Lelystad Airport. The airport location is 50 kilometers east of Amsterdam Oost and .

Schiphol previously said being at capacity is the reason why  by all travellers, for the time being. The scarce availability at Schiphol could lead to an increase in holiday costs. Corendon founder Atilay Uslu also suggested problems with an uncertain aviation policy is causing tremendous difficulties for travel businesses. "Hundreds of millions are being invested in Lelystad Airport. We are told that we are no longer welcome at Schiphol and that we have to go to Lelystad," he said to BNR.

"We all prepare our business models to fly from Lelystad Airport. And then suddenly we hear: maybe we will not start, or maybe we will start on April 1, 2019," he said, if it remains on schedule. Residents in the area are angered by the proposed expanded use of the airfield, and a major environmental impact study produced for the project was flawed.

"What are we to do with this message?" Uslu said of Netherlands policymakers.

While confusion has surrounded the Lelystad site, the other major airports in the Netherlands also showed strong growth. Eindhoven Airport also saw its passenger volume rise to 5.7 million (up 19.4%), whilst Rotterdam The Hague Airport registered a 5,3% rise in passenger numbers in 2017, to 1.7 million.

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