Schiphol Airport Group outlines cases for capacity limits in District Court

A view across Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
Photo Credit: Roger Cremers/Schiphol Airport

Lawyers acting for Royal Schiphol Group have outlined the case defending Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s decision to place capacity limits on aircraft movements. Legal proceedings were brought against the Royal Schiphol Group and the Ministry of I&W by KLM and a group of airlines.

Through its lawyers, Schiphol said today that it “considers a reduction in the number of aircraft movements from 500,000 to 460,000 per year as a necessary interim step that ensures certainty in advance of a new Airport Traffic Decree.”

This it says should provide certainty and perspective for local residents as well as airlines.

The lawyers acting for Schiphol made the airport’s stance known in the preliminary relief proceedings before the Haarlem District Court in the matter of the ‘Schiphol Preliminary Scheme’.

In a statement issued today, Schiphol says it believes that a new Airport Traffic Decree containing hard environmental limits that protect residents and the environment should be initiated as soon as possible, saying:

“These environmental limits will make it clear to the aviation sector what is and is not possible. There should also be scope for reward within these limits, in the event that aviation proves to be quieter and cleaner.”

“That system is still in the works, however, and a situation which sees two systems operating along separate tracks is far from ideal.”


Background on the capacity declaration 

Earlier this month, the group of airlines stated that it would challenge the government’s unilateral decision to significantly cut flight movements at Schiphol.

They stated that they are confident they can reduce noise levels and CO2 emissions while maintaining a network of destinations for the millions of passengers and tonnes of cargo they carry annually to and from Schiphol.

The airlines stated that they have already made multi-billion euros investments to meet near- and long-term goals in line with their own decarbonization trajectories as well as government policies.

They contended that the government’s justification hinges on operational restrictions with no consideration of alternative workable solutions to effect noise reduction.

Schiphol’s view in District Court

In Schiphol’s view, the key question today was whether it may include the preliminary scheme in its capacity declarations for the coming Winter season (W23).

The airport describes in the capacity declaration how many flights are permitted in a season. The independent slot coordinator then allocates the available capacity (slots) amongst the airlines.

The capacity declaration process for the coming Winter season is currently ongoing. 

While the airport group concedes that the preliminary scheme is not ideal for anyone, Schiphol states that it believes that the proposal:

“….provides the necessary certainty, represents an intermediate step towards a good and robust system of protection and certainty and furthermore is workable.”

Schiphol sees it as a necessary intermediate step towards the real solution of a new Airport Traffic Decree.

Concluding the oral arguments on behalf of Schiphol in the Haarlem District Court, the lawyers stated that “certainty and perspective were key, and that no time should be wasted in providing them.”  

“Aside from the court proceedings, Schiphol continues to vigorously pursue its aim of achieving a good and workable system with clear nuisance and environmental limits,” the Airport Group states.

“Schiphol willingly reaches out to all parties in order to accelerate further progress towards a new balance, with certainty and perspective for all.”

“While it is clear to us that people love to travel, we are also mindful that sustainability, health and wellbeing are rightly seen as increasingly important.”

“The world is changing, and aviation needs to change with it,” the statement concluded.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read
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