Just passing through

KLM sees the solution to the growing noise and capacity problems at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport in exiling all those nasty charter flights to the wastes of the Noordoost polder near Lelystad or Rotterdam.

At least that is what director Ernst de Groot says in Saturday’s Parool. No other prestigious airport allows quite so many of these irritating little price-fighters to take up precious runway time at the expense of lucrative transit passengers.
Some 70% of the passengers who travel with KLM (or one of its numerous partners) through Schiphol are in transit, as are 40% of the airport’s passengers as a whole. These people apparently benefit the Netherlands because they have the odd cup of coffee while waiting and provide jobs for people shifting their suitcases from one plane to another.
But Schiphol is once again grappling with the issues of noise, pollution and scarce runway time and much of that noise and pollution is due to transit passengers. And they are exempt from the new eco-tax on flying, which means in effect, the Dutch traveller is paying for their pollution.
So do the economic benefits of transit passengers outweigh the environmental cost of air travel and its focus on Schiphol? Sidelines is no fan of government commissions – so often seen as an easy way out of dealing with a difficult subject – but air travel vested interests are so at odds that a real independent inquiry is the logical solution.

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