Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport abandons plans to cut capacity next summer

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The Dutch government has abandoned its plan to impose capacity cuts at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS) for the summer of 2024 following a backlash from US and European authorities.  

The plan to cap the number of flights operating into and out of Schiphol, the Dutch nation’s most important airport and one of Europe’s busiest hubs for next summer, had been primarily driven by the desire to cut noise and air pollution.  

Limiting the number of flights over the summer season to just around 450,000 movements had been welcomed by both environmentalists and local residents alike, who argued that the move was necessary to reduce carbon dioxide and nitrogen emissions, as well as noise pollution. The proposed cap would have seen movements drop to 10% below those handled by the airport in 2019.  

The airport has described its decision to reverse the proposal as “a bitter pill.”   

The decision will be seen as a clear and decisive victory by many in the airline industry, including many carriers that would have been affected by the capacity cuts.  

Operators, including Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue, had all opposed the cap, with JetBlue launching a formal complaint with the US Department of Transport (DOT) and suggesting that US authorities should ban KLM from using New York JFK Airport in retaliation.  

JetBlue is a relative newcomer to Schiphol, having only just begun services from Amsterdam to New York (JFK) and Boston (BOS) earlier this year. 

As a result of the furor, on November 3, 2023, the US government threatened retaliation if the Dutch went ahead with the plan. The US Department of Transportation described the proposal as “unreasonable” and added that it violated the US-EU Air Transport Agreement. 

“I emphasize that the cabinet is still committed to restoring the balance between Schiphol and its environment,” Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers said in a letter to the Dutch parliament.  

Harbers said the cabinet would continue to pursue the plan. However, with a national election looming in the country later this month, it is uncertain whether the plan will be taken on as a priority following that election process.  

In September 2023, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was the third busiest airport in Europe, handling an average of 4,563 passenger flights per week.  

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