Amsterdam: The Dutch government can reduce the number of flights at Amsterdam’s airport for the coming season after winning a court appeal, in a potential blow to carriers seeking to maintain the hub’s appeal as a global transfer destination.
The number of flights can be scaled back between the end of the year and October 2024, an appeals court ruled on Friday, revoking an earlier decision by a local court. The state has outlined plans to eventually cut Schiphol Airport’s annual flight capacity to 440,000 flights by 2024, equal to a 12 per cent reduction.
The verdict is a loss for airlines including the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines, EasyJet and the International Air Transport Association lobbying group, which has dubbed the Amsterdam airport the worst in the world because of what it sees as a disconnect between low performance and high fees.
The ruling comes three months after a court concluded that the government’s attempts to minimize noise by cutting the number of flights that can go in and out of Schiphol airport did not follow the correct procedures.
KLM, which accounts to close to 60 per cent of traffic at Schiphol, said it was disappointed by the decision and that it would study the ruling to evaluate the effect on the number of aircraft movements, according to the airline’s statement.
Almost 53 million passengers flew through Schiphol last year. It has the most direct flight connections of any airport in Europe, according to data from Airports Council International Europe, beating out Istanbul and London Heathrow.
The court ruled that the government’s proposed measures aren’t in conflict with the rules of national and European law, nor are they against “the general principles of good administration,” according to a statement. It said that European rules of the balanced approach, which is a process that outlines best practices for implementing airport capacity restrictions for purposes of noise control, don’t apply to the government’s proposal.
Airlines and lobby groups maintain the reduction plan violates international regulations and inconveniences travelers. As a first step, the government proposed a temporary regulation to cap the number of flights from November this year at 460,000 - down from the current limit of 500,000.
Schiphol airport said it expected the Dutch government to provide further clarity about the number of flights within two months, which will be needed for it to determine the capacity declaration for the 2024 summer season. It plans to continue plans for a night closure, banning of private jets and the noisiest aircraft announced in April.
Lobby group IATA had recently dubbed Schiphol airport the “worst airport in the world,” with reference to a recent landing fee increase.
“The disruption is terrible, performance is dreadful and at the same time they want to increase charges,” IATA’s Willie Walsh said in June at the group’s annual meeting in Istanbul.