Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport must continue to grow or the Netherlands will lose out to other airport hubs in Europe, infrastructure minister Cora Nieuwenhuizen says in an interview with Monday’s Volkskrant.
Schiphol is currently nearing the official ceiling of 500,000 flight movements and plans to open an overspill airport in Lelystad have been delayed several times.
However, the 500,000 take-off and landing limit was ‘not for centuries’, the minister told the paper. ‘The question is, how, when and under what conditions can you expand.’
Schiphol currently serves some 326 destinations and this has to be expanded to keep up the network, the minister said.
‘There is enormous growth in aviation in parts of the world where it used to be unaffordable,’ she told the Volkskrant. ‘If you can fly to those places from Frankfurt, Brussels and Heathrow, then stopovers there become more attractive as well.’
The minister said she is still looking into what to do about Lelystad airport, after Brussels rejected earlier Dutch proposals to limit its expansion to overspill flights from Schiphol.
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.
In addition, in order to make Lelystad a success, the government needs 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.
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