Saturday 18 September 2021

Dutch government stops Middle Eastern airline Schiphol expansion

Main Entrance in Schiphol Airport- AmsterdamThe Dutch government has intervened to stop the expansion of Gulf airlines at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport because of unfair competition with Air France-KLM, the Financieele Dagblad reports.

The paper says airlines like KLM are under increasing pressure from Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad over routes to the Middle East. However, western airlines claim this is due to unfair financial support which the Middle Eastern airlines get from their governments.

Junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld has now frozen the Gulf airlines’ Schiphol landing rights, the FD says. ‘I want, together with my European colleagues, to take a tougher approach to the rise of airlines in the Middle East if there is talk of unfair competition,’ the FD quotes her as saying.

The European Union is currently negotiating an air treaty with the Gulf states which includes clauses on state financing, the paper says. Schiphol airport is owned by the Dutch government and local authorities.

Criticism

However, air travel experts have criticised the minister, saying there is little that can be done to halt the rise of Gulf airlines. ‘You have to ask who will be most affected by this,’ Eric Pels of Amsterdam’s VU University told the paper. ‘If Etihad is not allowed to expand at Schiphol, is it not more likely to use Frankfurt?’

Others warn that the Gulf states themselves may take action against Air France-KLM and point out that the Middle Eastern airlines have built up considerable stakes in European carriers.

For example, Etihad has a 49% stake in Alitalia and a 29% stake in Air Berlin, aviation professor Hugo Roos pointed out.

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