The KLM Group has submitted its plan for noise abatement to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, in response to the government’s recent proposals to reduce noise impact levels.
In April Amsterdam Schiphol – the country’s largest airport and majority owned by the Dutch government – published proposals to limit night flights at the airport, as well as banning private jets and “the noisiest aircraft”.
At the time KLM said it was “astonished” the airport had put forward the proposals without engaging industry parties, and promised to submit its views on the matter by June 15.
True to its word the airline has published its response, stating that the minister’s plan of focusing on “drastically reducing the number of flights to achieve these targets as quickly as possible” has “many drawbacks”.
“In its current form, the minister’s plan does not revolve around renewal and improvement,” the group said.
“No distinction is drawn between newer and older aircraft, which are less clean and less silent. The plan also fails to consider that drastic cutbacks in flights will have an impact on national assets.”
Instead KLM has outlined what it calls a “smarter, three-pronged approach”, which it says “ensures that the night-time target [of a 15 per cent reduction in noise impact] will be achieved as early as 2024”, with daytime targets following in three years’ time.
The first “prong” of the plan is around investment in new aircraft. The KLM Group says it will invest €6 to €7 billion in cleaner, quieter, more efficient aircraft “in the coming years”, highlighting that “New aircraft are on average 50 per cent more silent than the aircraft they replace, constituting a substantial reduction in noise impact”.
The second part of the plan involves “extensive research into adopting smarter processes that will ensure quieter operations”, with examples including alternative flight approach procedures.
The group admits that “This implies different climbing and approach procedures, which makes implementation challenging for airlines as well as Air Traffic Control the Netherlands”, but said that “if all other operators join the KLM Group in pursuing such change, we will be able to achieve our noise targets in cooperation with Schiphol, LVNL and the government”.
Finally KLM says it will adjust its flight schedules so that its quietest aircraft are deployed at night, and is proposing that higher airport fees are charged for noisier aircraft at Schiphol, ensuring there is “an incentive for all airlines”.
The group said that its plans would “lead to a stronger decline in noise than the plan proposed by the minister”, claiming that it is “a choice between scrapping flights as a short-term solution or aiming for smart improvement”.
“Aiming solely for fewer flights and a strict 2024 deadline, is not the only way,” the group said.
“There are other ways to solve this problem. Our approach ensures that noise impact will continue to decline.
“We fully accept our responsibility and are acting accordingly. That is why we wish to engage constructively with one another, so that we opt for the smartest approach that will demonstrably lead to a cleaner, quieter, more fuel-efficient solution.”
“In that context, the KLM Group, together with other parties in the sector (easyJet, TUI, Corendon, BARIN), sought possible packages of measures that comply with the principles of the Balanced Approach. This has resulted in a package of measures that meets the stated noise targets and is more balanced, reasonable and less costly to society in welfare and prosperity.”