Schiphol airport’s €1bn plans include shifting charters to Lelystad

Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport plans to invest €1bn in improving its facilities over the next few years, including shifting charter flights to Lelystad airport.

Talks about the future have been ongoing for months between the airport authority and Dutch flag carrier KLM, which accounts for some 50% of Schiphol flights.

The agreement will be discussed by the cabinet on Friday. Schiphol airport is 100% state-owned.

Intercontinental flights

According to media reports, the deal states Schiphol will improve facilities for intercontinental flights and tariffs will go up marginally for all airlines.

In order to free up airspace for further expansion, thousands of charter flights will be moved to Lelystad airport, in the heart of the Flevo polder. A final decision on that move will be taken next year, Nos television says.

The aim is to expand Lelystad’s runway so that charter flights can use it intensively in 2017.

Travel firms

Travel operator organisation ANVR is enthusiastic about the move, according to news agency ANP. Nevertheless, passengers should still have the choice about whether to fly from Schiphol or Lelystad, director Frans Oostdam said.

Much needs to be done to prepare Lelystad for hundreds of thousands of passengers a year, he said. ‘Public transport needs to be improved and the window for take-offs and landings has to be expanded. Charter aircraft need to make several trips a day to be profitable.’

However, the head of holiday company ArkeFly is angry that other airlines were not consulted about Schiphol’s plans. This means ArkeFly, which takes holidaymakers to both European and long-haul destinations, will have to operate from two airports, he said.

Economy

Aviation economist Hans Heerkens told television programme Nieuwsuur the move is a logical step, and that without shifting flights to Lelystad, Schiphol risks breaking environmental rules.

Nevertheless, the airport cannot simply shift charter operators to a different destination because that is not their decision to make, he said. It can, however, give them a lower priority.

Local politicians are pleased with the plans, saying it will boost the economy and create new jobs.

10 years

There have been plans to expand Lelystad airport and move charter flights there for at least 10 years, all of which have stumbled on planning regulations.

In December 2011, the Supreme Court tore up government plans to expand Lelystad airport, saying the refusal to agree flight paths in advance was particularly problematic.

Towns around Lelystad and farming organisations had protested against the plans, saying they contravened airport legislation.

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