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Biden Administration Approves Initial ‘Countermeasures’ Against the Dutch Government Over Slot Access at Amsterdam Airport

Biden Administration Approves Initial ‘Countermeasures’ Against the Dutch Government Over Slot Access at Amsterdam Airport

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The Biden administration has approved two complaints by JetBlue and the A4A trade group that represents major U.S. airlines which were filed against the Dutch government over its plans to heavily restrict access at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) said on Friday that the Dutch government’s proposals to slash the number of takeoff and landing slots at Schiphol by as much as 10% were an “unjustifiable and unreasonable restriction” that constitutes a violation of the Open Skies agreement between the US and European Union.

a group of airplanes parked on a runway
Photo Credit: jetBlue

JetBlue discovered on Thursday that it would be completely barred from flying to Schiphol in April 2024, along with 23 other airlines, who will have their take-off and landing slots removed by regulators in order to comply with the Dutch government’s experimental legislation to reduce emissions and noise pollution around the airport.

The DOT has concluded that the Dutch government has not followed the so-called ‘Balanced Approach’ framework which was drawn up by the EU to prevent governments from imposing flight bans without first exploring alternative ways to reduce emissions.

In a decision published on Friday, the DOT said it had not seen any evidence that the Dutch government planned to delay implementation of its experimental legislation without first following the Balanced Approach, despite the department’s objections.

As a result, the DOT believes the Dutch government is breaching its responsibilities under the Open Skies agreement.

“We find that the implementation of the Government of the Netherlands’ Phase 1 noise reduction plan at AMS constitutes an unjustifiable and unreasonable discriminatory and anticompetitive practice, and we further find that the Government of the Netherlands has imposed an unjustifiable and unreasonable restriction on access of an air carrier to the U.S.-Amsterdam market,” the DOT wrote in its decision.

“We find that this practice, in the totality of the circumstances presented, constitutes violations of the U.S.-EU Agreement, and we conclude that approval of the complaints is warranted.”

JetBlue has called on the Biden administration to block Dutch flag carrier KLM from operating flights to New York JFK as a retaliatory countermeasure, although the DOT hasn’t gone that far… yet.

For the time being, the DOT has ordered KLM, along with Dutch carriers Martinair and TUI Airlines Nederland, to file their planned US schedules with the department within the next seven days, but additional countermeasures will be ‘deferred’ to a later date.

In the meantime, the DOT says that it will continue consultations with both the Dutch government and European Commission on November 13 in the hope of making “meaningful progress”.

“Should consultations fail to produce a meaningful path toward resolving this matter in a timely and satisfactory fashion, the Department stands ready to consider any further action that may be appropriate,” the DOT warned.

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