Saturday 24 October 2020

Budget airlines should give up Schiphol slots for Lelystad, says KLM boss

Budget airlines should be forced to hand back some of their slots at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport if they want to use Lelystad airport when it opens for commercial flights in two years time, KLM president Pieter Elbers has told the Volkskrant.

The increase in budget carriers operating out of Schiphol is threatening the airport’s position as a transport hub because they are taking up slots which KLM could use to expand its destinations, Elbers said.

The same could happen as has happened at Eindhoven, Elbers said, pointing out that price fighters based at Eindhoven have not given up their slots at Schiphol in return.

International companies could end up leaving the Netherlands or rejecting it as a location if the destination network is not kept up to scratch, he said. ‘The first flight to Bangalore adds more than the umpteenth to Barcelona,’ he said.

Companies such as Huawei and Yamaha have located their European operations in the Netherlands because they can reach the whole world, Elbers said. ‘Schiphol’s growth has to come from air connections which add to the intercontinental network,’ he said. ‘KLM and its partners are the biggest source of such flights.’

Take off and landings

Parliament is due to question aviation experts next week about the limit on aircraft movements at Schiphol and future aviation policy. The airport may not exceed 500,000 take-offs and landings a year up to 2020.

The government wants Lelystad to focus on holiday charter traffic so that Schiphol can focus on transfers and trans-continental flights when it opens.

However, airlines and holiday companies are not keen on the move to Lelystad. ‘Our customers don’t live there,’ a spokesman for holiday firm Arke said last year. ‘We’ve done research and Schiphol is an attractive airport because of all the facilities. Lelystad is further away, takes longer to get to and is therefore unattractive.’

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