*****UPDATE: The Dutch government has announced it will push ahead with the cuts at Schiphol. IATA has released the following comment by director general Willie Walsh:

“The decision of Minister Harbers to push forward with the Schiphol flight cuts shows a contempt for democratic and legal scrutiny, and a cavalier approach to the Netherlands’ treaty obligations with respect to international law.

“By ramming this action through in its last weeks in office, the caretaker government is hurting the Dutch economy and aviation workers without due consideration of alternatives that could reduce noise without sacrificing livelihoods.

“We will continue to fight this decision in the Courts, alongside and on behalf of the global airline community, travellers, and those who rely on aviation. Our opposition is not about the merits of reducing noise: airlines are determined to do so and have plans and investments in place to that effect.

“This is about ensuring that the lawful internationally agreed process for managing noise is adhered to, so that the benefits of aviation generated by Schiphol can be safeguarded for the people of the Netherlands as a whole.”*****

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airlines for America (A4A), European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), and European Regions Airline Association (ERA) have published a joint statement urging the Dutch government to delay any decision on capacity cuts at Amsterdam Schiphol airport.

In July authorities were granted permission to temporarily cap flight movements at the airport, having overturned an initial decision against the cuts in the court of appeal.

Dutch government wins appeal to cap flights at Schiphol

However around the same time the Dutch government collapsed as a result of a disagreement between coalition parties over asylum policies, and a caretaker government is currently in place until elections can take place later this year.

The statement by IATA and other industry bodies warned that “In a few months’ time, this government will not be accountable for the severe consequences that may follow from the Schiphol decision, particularly with respect to relations with the Netherlands’ trading partners, and lost jobs and prosperity at home”.

“Such a consequential and controversial move requires proper democratic scrutiny and political accountability,” the statement continues, adding that a coalition of airlines and associations has commenced Supreme Court cassation proceedings challenging the decision of the court of appeal.

“Flight cuts of this magnitude at Schiphol will mean reductions in slot holdings that will negatively impact passenger and freight services,” said the joint statement.

“No mechanism, domestic or international, exists for agreeing such cuts. Rushing this process through could result in retaliatory international action and further legal challenges, including from governments defending their rights under international agreements and bilateral treaties.”

The industry bodies said that rushing through the flight cuts “would be irresponsible on several levels”, warning that it would “demonstrate a contempt of the necessary democratic and legal scrutiny required of such a highly irregular and economically damaging proposal”, as well as placing the Netherlands “squarely in conflict with its trading partners defending their rights under international agreements and bilateral treaties”.

“Airlines are fully committed to addressing noise issues at airports under a proper Balanced Approach process,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

“It is essential that any decision be postponed until a fully functioning and accountable government with a fresh mandate is in place.

“This unprecedented and complex proposal can then be considered carefully, with the legal questions settled and the full facts and implications understood and in the public domain, and with sufficient time for the air transport industry to adapt if necessary, when a final decision is known.”

In June The KLM Group submitted a plan for noise abatement to the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, in response to the government’s proposals to reduce noise impact levels at Schiphol.

KLM outlines three-pronged plan to reduce night-time noise levels

schiphol.com, iata.org