Airlines plan legal action against Dutch government over Schiphol cuts
The Dutch government is facing legal challenges to its decision to reduce the number of flights at Schiphol airport because of noise and pollution from both international aviation organisation IATA and a group comprising KLM and other airlines.
KLM, Delta Air Lines, Corendon, easyJet and tour operator TUI said on Friday they have joined forces to take the Dutch government to court in a challenge to the decision to cut flight movements at Schiphol airport to 460,000 a year.
IATA also said on Friday it is taking legal action against the Dutch government, arguing the ‘political decision’ to cut flights contravenes EU regulations and the Chicago Convention on aviation, which sets out the steps signatories are required to follow to manage the noise impact of aviation.
The airlines say they are confident they can reduce noise levels and CO2 emissions ‘while maintaining a network of destinations for the millions of passengers and tonnes of cargo they carry annually to and from Schiphol’.
The government’s ‘unilateral and sudden decision’, to reduce Schiphol’s capacity from 500,000 to 460,000 flight annual movements is ‘incomprehensible’, the airlines said, arguing they have already made multi-billion euro investments to meet their own and government decarbonisation targets.
In addition, they say, the government has failed to take any alternative workable solutions to bring about noise reduction into account.
‘The proposed measures will negatively limit Dutch travellers’ options,’ said Arjan Kers, TUI’s general manager in the Netherlands. ‘The measures are contrary to (European) regulations and government policies that have been in place for years and do not reward the efforts that have been and are being made by airlines to reduce noise and emissions.’
The initiative was launched by the KLM group, which accounts for close to 60% of traffic at Schiphol, supported by industry association BARIN and European aviation bodies, which say the capacity reduction will have major knock-on effects.
In a parallel move, IATA announced its own legal challenge on Friday, arguing there has been no ‘meaningful’ consultation with the organisations which will be affected and that flight reductions are being used as a first, not last resort.
‘The job-destroying hostile approach to aviation that the Dutch government has chosen is a totally disproportionate response to managing noise,’ director general Willie Walsh said. ‘The government has even refused to engage in meaningful consultations and made flight reductions the goal, rather than working with industry to meet noise and emissions reduction goals.’
The airport authority said last week that the 460,000 cap on the number of aircraft movements at Schiphol airport should be seen as a ‘necessary intermediary stage’ and new growth cannot be ruled out.
The airport, which is 100% owned by the state and local authorities, said it will accept the government-imposed limit this year and the next, but that it cannot rule out an expansion after that.
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