Irish budget airline Ryanair is taking legal action against the European Commission about the way the Dutch government has agreed to divide flights between Schiphol and Lelystad airport.
The airline argues that the commission has not ‘sufficiently justified’ the traffic distribution rules, which gives priority to airlines already based at Schiphol, court documents show. It addition, Ryanair says the plans amount to state support for KLM.
‘We want the Dutch government to open Lelystad and let it develop as a normal airport,’ Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary told local broadcaster Omroep Flevoland.
The Netherlands, he said, is spending a ‘ridiculous amount of time’ placing artificial restrictions on who can operate from Lelystad, which he says, amount to ‘complete protectionism’ to KLM and Schiphol.
The Dutch government had been planning to force charter airlines to move to Lelystad to free up capacity at Schiphol for long haul flights. Ministers are opposed to allowing Lelystad to grow autonomously, and a majority of MPs also want Lelystad to function purely as an overspill airport for Schiphol.
However, last year the European Commission backed plans to open Lelystad airport to commercial traffic as long as airlines themselves agree to move from Schiphol to Lelystad and as long as the new airport is also open to airlines not currently based at Schiphol.
The government had hoped to open Lelystad to holiday traffic in 2020 and so allow Schiphol to focus on more lucrative intercontinental flights but the opening has already been delayed twice.
According to Business Insider, the case will not be launched until MPs have voted on the revised plan for distributing traffic.
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