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Dutch Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Schiphol Capacity Cuts

A KLM 777 departing in 2019. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

In what will be a blow to KLM and a number of other airlines, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal has ruled that the Dutch government is allowed to reduce the number of flights at Schiphol airport.  The ruling comes after a lower court had earlier pronounced a decision against the government’s plans to limit movements at one of Europe’s main hub airports.

The government had announced its intention to lower flight numbers from 500,000 to 460,000 with the intention to cap flights at 440,000 by 2024. Bloomberg News reported that the plan would equate to a 12 percent reduction in capacity at Schiphol and had been fought by airlines including Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines, easyJet and airline industry organization IATA (International Air Transport Association).

According to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal’s ruling, the capacity limits at Schiphol can commence at the end of the year and be in place by October 2024. KLM is seeking clarification on how this will be achieved and the impact on its hub operation as the airline will soon be selling tickets for its Summer 2024 schedule.

KLM Responds

KLM responded with the following statement: “The court has ruled on appeal that a temporary experimental scheme would not violate the Aviation Act, provided a number of conditions are met. We are disappointed about the ruling and are studying it. The court does not specify in concrete terms how an experimental regulation can be applied. As a result, it is currently unclear when, how and in what way the ruling will be implemented and what it means for the number of aircraft movements at Schiphol…”

‘KLM will continue to engage with other stakeholders in seeking the best way to reduce the number of people affected by aircraft noise. To this end, we have submitted a plan for cleaner, quieter, more fuel-efficient flight operations on 15 June. We are convinced that these measures will enable us to reduce noise impact and CO2 emissions, while retaining our network. We would very much like to achieve this in cooperation with government and airport authorities, Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) and other stakeholders, within the framework of the balanced approach required by the EU in the context of the noise reduction targets the ministry has set,” the statement adds.

The initial ruling by a local court three months ago determined that the Dutch government had not followed ‘correct procedures’ in its attempts to lower noise around Schiphol by reducing capacity. However, the appeals court overturned the initial ruling with Reuters stating that the court found that ‘any fear by airlines of suffering serious damage as a result of the proposed measures was no reason to arrive at a different outcome.’

John Flett


  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John has held the positions of course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and has been a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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