Schiphol to offer fewer flights from 2023 as ministers get tough on noise, pollution

Photo: Benjamin van Waart/Flickr
Photo: Benjamin van Waart/Flickr

Schiphol airport will be able to offer no more than 440,000 take off and landing slots per year from November 2023, infrastructure minister Mark Harbers confirmed on Friday.

The figure represents a 12% cut in the current total, which the airport is currently close to breaching, and would see traffic back at 2014 levels.

The reduction is necessary to cope with noise and other forms of pollution, Harbers told MPs in a briefing. A ‘new balance’ is needed between ‘the importance of a good international airport, a good business climate and the importance of a better and healthier living environment’, Harbers said.

‘It is an illusion to think you can have 500,000 flights in this situation,’ he said. ‘Local residents are inconvenienced by flight noise and are concerned about the effects of aviation on their health, the environment and the climate.’

The news had been leaked earlier by broadcasters NOS and RTL Nieuws.

Work will now start on the practicalities of the measure which will run for five years, Harbers said. ‘In the future we want to manage things differently, based on the actual noise and emissions rather than the number of flights.’


Aviation chiefs have said they doubt that the new restrictions will allow Schiphol to maintain its huge destination network, despite Harbers’ assurances.

‘It would seem as if the cabinet is deliberately strangling the aviation sector,’ said Marnix Fruitema, chairman of Barin, which represents airlines using Schiphol. ‘This has not been discussed with the aviation sector and conflicts with the coalition accord. It will also make flying impossible for people on low incomes,’ he said.

Schiphol has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights this summer because of the shortage of staff and to avoid long queues.

Harbours also confirmed that the government will not take a final decision on what to do about Lelystad airport, earmarked to take over some Schiphol traffic, until 2024.

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