The Netherlands is planning to cut Schiphol airport’s capacity by about 20% next year to reduce noise pollution, a move the global airline lobby described as a “shocking blow” to aviation, jobs and the economy.
The Dutch government said it will introduce a maximum limit of 440,000 flights at the Amsterdam hub in November 2023, meaning it will no longer exceed enforcement measures regarding noise, according to a statement Friday.
The Dutch arm of Air France-KLM said the government’s decision to cut back operations undermines Schiphol’s hub status by reducing the number of connections available to passengers. KLM will have to “say goodbye to its smaller aircraft” and focus on attracting traffic to larger planes.
“KLM’s intricately connected network—currently serving 170 destinations—will then no longer be tenable,” the airline said.
The ruling comes after Schiphol voluntarily reduced capacity for the summer as long lines caused by a shortage of security staff plunged travel into chaos. The airport was one of western Europe’s four main hubs prior to the pandemic, competing with London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt.
International Air Transport Association Director General Willie Walsh said the Netherlands plan will see “a throttling of air connectivity which has been steadily built up for 100 years and supported large parts of the Dutch economy.”
The Dutch government also announced it won’t make a decision before the summer of 2024 about the opening of Lelystad airport, a second Amsterdam airport built to free up space for KLM to expand. The cabinet said the issues of flight routes and a nature permit must be resolved for the opening to be approved, extending years of delays amid political gridlock.
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