JetBlue Files Open Skies Complaint Against The Netherlands

A JetBlue aircraft on the taxiway.
Photo Credit: Lewis Chesworth/AviationSource

LONDON – New York based JetBlue Airways has filed a complaint under the Open Skies agreement against the government of The Netherlands.

The filing, which was submitted to the US DOT (Department of Transportation) contends that the airline has been continually refused by the government of the Netherlands following their requests to offer flights to Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport.

In JetBlue’s case, they claim that The Netherlands government are “in violation of its obligations under the U.S. – EU Open Skies Air Transport Agreement.”

The claim contends they are failing to ensure JetBlue is provided all operating authorisations, including slots, required to conduct international air transportation at Amsterdam Airport Schipol (AMS).

AMS is the primary international airport in The Netherlands and third largest in the world.

What are Open Skies Agreements?

Open Skies Agreements can either be bilateral or multilateral agreements between the United States government and the government(s) of other countries.

According to the U.S. Department of State, Open Skies Agreements are designed to eliminate any government interference with airlines looking to make “commercial decisions.”

This can include factors like routes, capacity and pricing, giving total freedom to the airlines looking to make these moves.

Under this agreement, airlines are given the freedom to operate as many flights between the U.S. and E.U., although the only barrier that sits in their way is receiving takeoff and landings slots at airports. this can be proven quite a challenge especially at the worlds biggest and busiest airports, such as London Heathrow.

This is exactly why JetBlue has filed the complaint against the government of The Netherlands, since they are getting the way of JetBlue’s plans to offer services to AMS.

JetBlue in the complaint called the move by the government “an unjustifiable or unreasonable discriminatory, predatory, or anticompetitive practice against a carrier”.

Following on from this, JetBlue has since asked the United States government to confiscate slots from Dutch flag carrier, KLM in retaliation against the issue.

A JetBlue A321 in flight.
Photo Credit: Joris Wendt/AviationSource

There is a backstory to it all

The reason for the government of The Netherlands to deny JetBlue’s permission to operate flights to the country does come with a reason.

This is because, as stated in the complaint, that an ongoing noise reduction plan has brought with it a drastic reduction in annual flight movements at Amsterdam Airport.

In order to achieve this reduction in flights, the slot coordinator at AMS has retired available slots, that could have been made available to JetBlue and other carriers alike.

The Situation Overall

Since JetBlue launched its first transatlantic flights to London in 2021, the airline has been keen to expand further across the to the main continent.

Luckily for them they have been successful in doing this having announced flights to Paris Charles De Gaulle, towards the end of 2022 and clearly it seems Amsterdam was next on the list of destinations to tick off.

Overall it seems that JetBlue might have to play a very long waiting game, either to see if The Netherlands Government backs down in response to the complaint filed or until a currently used set of slots at Amsterdam becomes available for the carrier to take on.

By Lewis Chesworth 4 Min Read
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