The Dutch government has suspended controversial plans to cap the number of flights at Amsterdam Schiphol airport next year.
The so-called Experimental Rule would have seen a cap of 460,000 flights imposed at the airport for 2024 (down from around 500,000), in a bid to reduce noise pollution.
Earlier this year several airlines including KLM, easyJet, TUI and Delta went to court to successfully challenge the plans, only for the court of appeal to rule in favour of the Dutch authorities.
However – as discussed on our forum – the cuts meant that several US carriers including JetBlue were denied slots at Schiphol for summer 2024, and this in turn led to the threat of retaliation by US authorities, which could have resulted in Dutch flag carrier KLM’s slots being affected at US airports.
Responding to the U-turn KLM said that it was “satisfied that the Dutch government has decided to suspend the experimental rule for next year”, adding that it was “an important step to prevent retaliation and to continue flying to the US”.
And Willie Wash, director general of The International Air Transport Association (IATA), also welcomed the change of heart, tweeting:
“We welcome this outbreak of common sense from the Dutch government. Maintaining Schiphol’s capacity is good news for jobs, the economy, traveller choice and convenience, and better trade relations.”
But Amsterdam Schiphol said that it was “disappointed by the recent developments”, claiming that “local residents are getting the short end of the stick”.
“Reducing the number of flights is not a goal in itself for us, but the Experimental Ruling did provide clarity and certainty for local residents,” the airport said.
“Moreover, according to Schiphol, falling back on ‘anticipatory enforcement’ leads to more uncertainty, including for the aviation sector itself. It is time that hindrance for local residents is noticeably reduced.
“The importance of a night closure of Schiphol is now becoming even more imminent. This also applies to the other measures in our 8-point plan, such as the ban on private flights and the banning of the noisiest aircraft.”