The Hague: The Dutch government pressed ahead Friday with controversial plans to cut flights from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to stem noise pollution around one of Europe’s busiest air hubs.
The current plan to cut flights from 500,000 to 452,500 per year, starting in November 2024, has already flown into heavy weather with airlines including the KLM national carrier criticising the move.
“Fewer air transport movements per year, fewer flights and less noisy aircraft at night, and using runways that cause the least nuisance for the surrounding area as much as possible,” the cabinet said.
“These are the measures with which the cabinet wants to reduce noise nuisance around Schiphol from next year,” it said in a statement.
With an eventual target of 20 percent, government’s plan will cut noise by 15 percent by day, with the same at night.
“Measures still have to be taken for the remaining five percent,” cabinet said.
It added that certain actions like a plan to partially close Schiphol at night or for airlines to buy quieter planes could not currently be taken.
“However Schiphol’s plan for a partial night closure is being examined to further reduce noise pollution,” the cabinet said.
The plans are now being presented to the European Commission which is to hand down an opinion on the matter before a final decision is made.
Airlines strongly criticised the announcement.
The government’s intention to cut flights “is opting to focus one-sidedly on capacity reduction as a goal in itself. We find this incomprehensible,” KLM said in a statement.
Outgoing Dutch Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers remained “fixated on capacity reductions”, KLM chief executive Marjan Rintel said in a statement.
“It’s hard to imagine such a drastic decision being taken by an outgoing government,” she said, referring to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s now defunct coalition.
Air France-KLM said in a separate statement the decision will “inevitably hamper the connectivity, attractiveness and employment situation in the Netherlands.”
“In light of this decision, and as previously expressed, Air France-KLM Group will have no choice but to adjust its strategy to maintain its European market share within a global industry,” it said.
“The expected decision of the Dutch government is arbitrary, ill thought out and undercuts the procedures normally used to assess such drastic measures,” said Airlines for Europe managing director Ourania Georgoutsakou.