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Dutch Court Rules Government Can’t Reduce Number of Flights From Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

Dutch Court Rules Government Can’t Reduce Number of Flights From Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

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The Dutch court has ruled that the government can not unilaterally force Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to reduce the number of flights by the tens of thousands in order to reduce the environmental and noise impact the airport has on the local area.

The case was brought by Dutch flag carrier KLM alongside a coalition of airline and aviation lobby groups who had slammed the proposals as illegal in European law.

On Wednesday, a court close to Schiphol Airport in the city of Haarlem agreed with KLM’s lawyers and overturned the proposed flight cap that the Dutch government wanted to push through in time for the start of the winter season, which starts in October.

Schiphol already has a flight cap of 500,000 aircraft movements per year, but The Hague had sought to slash that number by 40,000 by the end of 2023. That was supposed to be an intermediate step before a second reduction of 20,000 flights was imposed on the airport.

Airlines and aviation groups based their case on 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. The likes of KLM and Tui Airlines say they were never consulted and that the government was using a crude cap as a first resort rather than the last resort.

In a statement, KLM said it would now seek to prove to the government that there was a better way to lower CO2 emissions and reduce noise. A spokesperson for the airline said it hoped it could cooperate with the government and airport operator.

“We want to reiterate how important we believe it is to continue to strive for greater sustainability,” the airline said in a statement. “That means less noise and fewer CO2 emissions. This is an important part of KLM’s strategy.”

On Tuesday, the airline slammed plans from the Royal Schiphol Group to ban night flights, reduce the number of early morning and late night departures and ground private jets as part of its own proposals to reduce aircraft noise pollution.

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