A coalition of airlines and aviation trade groups have mounted a legal challenge against the Dutch government over its demands that flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport are slashed by 60,000 over the next few years.
Last month, The Hague ordered airport operator the Royal Schiphol Group to reduce the current annual cap of 500,000 flight movements by 40,000. This is an intermediate step before a second reduction of 20,000 flights is forcibly imposed on the airport and airlines by the Duch government.
On Friday, Dutch flag carrier KLM said it was joining forces with several other carriers, including easyJet, Delta Air Lines and Tui, to sue the government over its ‘unilateral’ decision to cut flight movements at Schiphol.
The coalition said the lawsuit was necessary to keep the Netherlands connected to the rest of the world.
Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) slammed the Dutch government over the flight cap on Friday, saying it was “handicapping its economy by destroying connectivity”.
Accusing the government of breaching EU law, Walsh blasted: “The job-destroying hostile approach to aviation that the Dutch government has chosen is a totally disproportionate response to managing noise”.
“The government has even refused to engage in meaningful consultations and made flight reductions the goal, rather than working with industry to meet noise and emissions reduction goals while restoring employment and revitalizing the post-pandemic economy”.
The aviation industry is hoping the Dutch government will shun rudimentary caps in favour of a new flight management system that would restrict older, noisier and less environmentally friendly airplanes, while allowing airlines to expand operations if they use modern, fuel-efficient aircraft.
The flight management system has, however, been in the works for the past 10 years and Transportation Minister Mark Harbers has warned that the necessary legislation to make the system a reality could be at least another five years away.
The coalition plans to sue the Dutch government for breaching EU Regulation 598/2014, which covers noise-related operating restrictions at EU airports.
Under this EU-wide law, governments must first consult with affected parties before imposing flight restrictions which can only be used as a last resort. Airlines say they were never consulted and that The Hague is using a crude cap as a first resort rather than the last resort.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.