Tuesday 02 June 2020

Brussels says no to Lelystad airport plan, opening further delayed

Photo: Supercarwaar via Wikimedia Commons

Plans to open Lelystad airport to commercial air traffic have taken a further knock with the European Commission rejecting the plans as they now stand.

Transport minister Cora van Niewenhuizen told MPs on Tuesday that the rules the ministry wanted to implement to force charter airlines to move from Schiphol to Lelystad have been rejected by the commission and that she is withdrawing them altogether pending further discussion.

The government had hoped to open Lelystad to holiday traffic in 2020 and so allow Schiphol to focus on more lucrative intercontinental flights. The opening has already been delayed twice.

The minister does not go into details about Brussels objections in her letter, but the Financieele Dagblad says the measure currently on the table conflicts with European competition laws. Not only does is rule out autonomous growth at Lelystad but it also disadvantages other airlines because only Schiphol will profit from the measure, the paper said.

Discriminatory

In order to make Lelystad a success, the government wants to have legal measures in place to force unwilling airlines make the switch to the new location. Airlines are furious at the idea, which they say is discriminatory and unfairly benefits KLM.

The expansion plans have also led to major protests by people who will be affected by low-flying planes. In addition, last year it emerged that the noise calculations for local residents were wrong and that people will suffer far more aircraft nuisance than expected.

Another key criteria for Brussels is the availability of good public transport between the two airports. Lelystad airport is hard to reach by public transport and there are no plans to give it a train station.

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