Court rules Schiphol Airport must cut 40.000 flights in 2024
A court in Amsterdam has ruled that Schiphol Airport needs to reduce the number of incoming and outgoing flights significantly next year, from a total of 500.000 to 460.000. The majority of changes are likely to be implemented in the airport’s summer schedule.
Dutch government fighting to reduce air traffic at Schiphol
For years, Schiphol has faced pushback from local residents and the Dutch government, who called on the airport to reduce the number of flights. Last year Mark Harbers, the Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management, announced his plans to cut the number of flights in two stages, first to 460.000 in 2023 and 440.00 in 2024, in order to reduce noise pollution.
Unsurprisingly, this plan was not a popular one within the aviation industry, with airlines taking the government to court to fight the decision. In April, the court in Haarlem ruled in favour of the airport’s cause, blocking Harber’s plans to set a cap of 460.000 flights from November 1, 2023.
The court ruled that the planned reduction could not go ahead as the government had failed to follow European procedures and consult the aviation sector in the decision-making process. The government quickly announced it would appeal this decision, with Harbers arguing at the time that the ruling “is not in the interest of the people living near Schiphol.”
Amsterdam court rules in favour of Harbers’ cuts
In what is a big win for Harbers and his plan for Schiphol, the government’s appeal has proven successful, with the Amsterdam court ruling that no rules are broken by the policy. As RTL Nieuws explains, “the temporary reduction of the flight ceiling is not an "operating restriction" as intended in European legislation.”
In a twist, the court also ruled that the current number of flights is fundamentally illegal in itself, as an environmental permit has never been issued for 500.000 flights. The plan to cut flights can therefore not be a restriction on the operation of Schiphol Airport.
Schiphol Airport to cut 40.000 flights from November
This ruling means that, from November 1, 2023, Schiphol needs to reduce the number of flights by 40.000. As much of the airport’s winter schedule has already been decided, it's expected that the majority of changes to flights will be seen next summer.
Unsurprisingly, KLM wasn’t too pleased with the news: “It is currently unclear when, how and in what way the judgement will be implemented and what it means for the number of air transport movements at Schiphol,” the airline told RTL Nieuws.
Thumb image credit: Aerovista Luchtfotografie / Shutterstock.com.