Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is set to see a drastic drop in traffic starting November 2023 following recently announced legislation.

In an effort to slash noise and air pollution across the region, the current Dutch cabinet is moving forward with plans to cap yearly movements at the airport to 440,000. Schiphol is currently approved for 500,000 movements a year, though it does not use all available slots.

Environmental problems

The government has sought to find a balance between the importance of the airport to the country's economy and improved quality of life for nearby residents, with Mark Harbers, Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, addressing concerns in a government statement posted 24 June.

"I want to offer certainty and perspective to both the aviation sector and local residents," noted Harbers. "This decision forms the basis for a new equilibrium. Unfortunately, it contains a difficult message for the aviation sector, which is still fully recovering from the drastic consequences of the corona pandemic."

Over the past decade, the airport has seen exponential growth and developed itself into a major European hub, raising questions about further expansion and its impact on the environment and surrounding communities.

Comment: Government policy elsewhere demonstrates that the interests of local communities are of little concern.

The airport has since responded to the news, emphasizing the work it has put in for reducing emissions and expressing its concerns about the impact the shift in regulation could have on noise pollution.
"Schiphol's mission is to connect the Netherlands with the world and at the same time to accelerate the reduction of our impact on the environment and climate. Schiphol is not aiming for growth for the sake of growth, nor for contraction for the sake of contraction."
"We are in favour of a well-thought-out approach that leads to the intended goal: connecting the Netherlands with the world as an increasingly quieter and cleaner Schiphol."
No vote on Lelystad

Additionally, Schiphol has criticized the government's failure to vote on the future development of nearby Lelystad Airport as an overspill alternative to take the strain on the airport's currently overstretched facilities.

Lelystad, located around 25 km outside of the center of Amsterdam, currently operates as a general aviation airport. However, it has the resources to handle larger narrowbody jets, opening the possibility for it to take flights from low-cost and charter airlines. Plans have faced frequent setbacks regarding environmental and financial concerns and the downturn in passenger traffic through the pandemic.

Schiphol bosses have pushed the cabinet hard to move forward with Lelystad's conversion to commercial services over recent months, with airport Chief Executive Dick Benschop urging the government to act in a January statement, noting that the airport is already ready for use. However, the cabinet has confirmed it will not decide on Lelystad until at least mid-2024 as it awaits a nature permit and resolution over its low-approach routes.

Comment: So the government is delaying any decision to reroute the traffic until after it will have already begun reducing flights.

Schiphol has notably struggled with its unprecedented post-pandemic demand, having moved to cut thousands of flights this summer by around 16%, capping daily seat figures at just 13,500 to ease the strain and prevent potential health and safety issues.

Comment: Indeed, numerous airports across the West are cancelling thousands of flights over the summer holidays, and, despite obfuscation by both the government and the airlines themselves, it has been revealed that this is because they fired so many staff during the contrived coronavirus crisis that they no longer have the staff required to charter the flights: Staff shortages force UK's busiest airport to block & cancel bookings of summer flights

"We are taking this measure with an unbelievably heavy heart. Everyone at Schiphol and all our partners want nothing more than to welcome all travellers with open arms, especially after the impact coronavirus has had," added Benschop.

"A lot is possible at Schiphol this summer, but not everything. Setting a limit now means that the large majority of travellers will be able to travel from Schiphol in a safe and responsible way."