From what we have seen this week regarding Schiphol’s slot constraints, we ask the following: Has one thing been said but another actioned?
We have seen two new carriers announce services into the Amsterdam-based airport, despite there being a reduction in capacity.
Without further ado, let’s get into Schiphol’s slot constraints…
PLAY To Launch Services to Schiphol…
Earlier this week, Icelandic carrier PLAY announced an additional flight to the Dutch city of Amsterdam Schiphol for its summer schedule of 2023.
CEO Birgir Jonsson said the following on this at the time:
“We are thrilled to bring back our services to Amsterdam and connect more customers to our affordable travel options.”
“Amsterdam is one of Europe’s biggest hubs and a vital destination for our VIA operations between North America and Europe.”
“At PLAY, our mission is clear: to provide low-cost flights and offer our customers more value for their money.”
“We aim to give the competition a run for their money with our low prices, providing people in our markets the opportunity to save money on their flights and enjoy more experiences in their destination. As we like to say at PLAY: Pay less, PLAY more.”
JetBlue Secures AMS Slots…
It was also revealed this week that American carrier JetBlue had acquired slots for Amsterdam Schiphol as well, with there being two daily slot pairs for the following routes:
In the route filing, it was revealed that the slots were acquired from Flybe, who went into administration once again back in January.
Now, in this perspective, it is a case of JetBlue capitalizing on slots that were already vacant and free to acquire, which means that this side of the argument may not count.
On the other hand, JetBlue has expressed disappointment at the flight times assigned to the slots.
Via a regulatory filing, the airline said the following on its disappointment with the Schiphol slots:
“The temporary slots accepted by JetBlue were not at commercially desirable times, as they involved an arrival time of 3 pm at AMS (local time), which would necessitate a JFK departure time of 1:20 am (local time).”
“Nevertheless, JetBlue’s acceptance of these temporary slots underscores its eagerness to enter the U.S.-Amsterdam air services market.”
Is There Actually An Issue with Slot Constraints?
Earlier this week, Schiphol Airport announced it was to reduce the number of aircraft movements from 500,000 to 460,000.
It is understood that this preliminary scheme is to be implemented initially into the upcoming Winter 2023/24 season, but this could come into effect for the Summer.
Such a plan is more based on the environmental and sustainability angle, of which the airport said the following in a statement:
“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.”
“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.”
Airlines such as easyJet have come out against this flight cap, such as easyJet’s Country Manager, William Vet, said the following on this:
“By choosing to pursue an arbitrary flight cap, the Dutch government totally disregards both the efforts made by the industry to decarbonize as well as the socio-economic benefits of aviation, significantly reducing connectivity.”
AviationSource has approached Schiphol Airport for a comment on why the approvals have been made for PLAY and JetBlue’s routes despite the slot constraints.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the airport said:
“The independent slot coordinator ACNL has made slots available to airlines for the summer season 2023, in accordance with European slot regulations.”
“It is up to the airlines to confirm whether they will use the slots.”
“It concerns slots that were previously returned to the ACNL. These slots are made available by the slot coordinator in accordance with the slot regulations to airlines that are on the waiting list of ACNL.”
It remains clear that the question asked above is a difficult one to answer.
On the one hand, JetBlue has been able to acquire slots that already existed within Schiphol Airport, but it is unclear what slots PLAY took from other carriers who may have previously operated there.
When AviationSource interviewed PLAY CEO Birgir Jonsson, he said that despite the current issues going on at the airport, he still wanted to operate services in the airport.
Nearly 10 days after that interview, he managed to secure those slots. Coincidence or not?
Either way, though, it is very much the perspective that airlines such as PLAY and JetBlue have managed to strike gold and get lucky with acquiring such slots.
The only question here is: How temporary will they be?