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Home » Aircraft » “You Don’t Mind the Shop by Closing It!” KLM Royal Dutch Airlines CEO Has Strong Words on Decision to Proceed with Schiphol Flight Restrictions

“You Don’t Mind the Shop by Closing It!” KLM Royal Dutch Airlines CEO Has Strong Words on Decision to Proceed with Schiphol Flight Restrictions

Unnecessary capacity reduction will damage the Netherlands, KLM Warns

KLM on Schiphol. Flight restrictions are "incomprehensible."

Today, the Dutch cabinet confirmed the government’s intention to drastically cut the number of flights operating at Amsterdam Schiphol.

The Dutch government has confirmed it intends to move forward with a regulation that would cut flights at Schiphol Airport to 460,000 annually starting in the Summer of 2024 and further reduce these to 452,500 starting in the Winter of 2024.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the oldest continuously operating airline in the world, warned that the minister has focused “on capacity reduction as a goal in itself.”

The airline described the decision as “incomprehensible” if the aim is to reduce noise. “This is not about the number of flight movements but about reducing noise. The noise targets can be achieved better that would benefit local residents, the climate, airlines and the Dutch economy,” the airline stated.

As an alternative to this move, KLM touted its “cleaner, quieter and more efficient” plan, submitted to the minister on 15 June. The airline claims this approach is sufficient to meet noise targets while keeping the number of flights operating out of Schiphol. Further, KLM emphasizes its “cleaner, quieter, and more efficient” plan was independently reviewed and verified by the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR).

“We can accomplish this if given the space to do so. Our plan will achieve the targets while ensuring the more rapid renewal of our aircraft, supporting cleaner, quieter, and more efficient flight operations,” KLM asserted. “The minister is opting for unnecessary reductions rather than actual improvements. We find it inconceivable that the minister plans to tear down what KLM has helped build over almost 104 years.”

KLM Committed to Noise Reduction and Sustainability While Supporting the Netherlands’ Accessibility

KLM reiterated its commitment to sustainable and quieter flight operations at Schiphol. “We carry that responsibility on a day-to-day basis,” KLM stated. “Drastically cutting the number of flight movements at Schiphol isn’t necessary to reduce noise levels.”

The airline says it could immediately meet the night-time targets. It would do so by improving operational processes and deploying newer, quieter aircraft at night. Further, KLM states that in three years it could deliver greater improvements day and night. “Innovation in the airline industry will enable us to fly cleaner, quieter, and more efficient aircraft worldwide,” KLM states.

“We are proud of KLM’s contribution to the accessibility of the Netherlands, serving close to 170 direct destinations worldwide from our Schiphol hub. We satisfy the needs of millions of people wanting to discover places around the world – to conduct business, to reunite families and to transport critical cargo. We hope to continue doing so in balance with the local surroundings. Minister Harbers asked us to reduce noise by 20%. To this end, we submitted the cleaner, quieter and more efficient plan. In it, we show that we can achieve the noise reduction targets while maintaining the current number of flight movements, maintaining the connection between the Netherlands as a trading nation and the rest of the world. Nonetheless, the minister remains fixated on capacity reductions. It is hard to imagine such a drastic decision being taken by an outgoing government, while the Dutch House of Representatives is set to vote on 12 September about which files are to be declared controversial. As an outgoing minister, you don’t mind the shop by closing it!”

KLM CEO Marjan Rintel

Airports and Airlines Join KLM in Opposing Schiphol Restrictions

The cause for dispute is the Dutch government’s flight cut regulation doesn’t adhere to established EU policy. It also breaches bilateral agreements for airline operations. Instead, airlines and airports propose a ‘Balanced Approach.’ This does not require flight restrictions to reduce noise levels. It relies on advances in newer aircraft, which are quieter than older aircraft.

Earlier today, ACI EUROPE, the association representing European Airports, joined other aviation groups protesting the forced reduction in flights at Schiphol Airport.

Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE said: “These decisions are about quick political wins ahead of national elections – at the expense of the Dutch economy and jobs. We are calling upon the European Commission to urgently ensure the respect of the Balance Approach principles as per EU law.”

Willie Walsh, Director General of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), issued an updated statement on the Dutch government’s decision.

“Our opposition is not about the merits of reducing noise: airlines are determined to do so and have plans and investments in place to that effect. This is about ensuring that the lawful internationally agreed process for managing noise is adhered to so that the benefits of aviation generated by Schiphol can be safeguarded for the people of the Netherlands as a whole,” Walsh said.

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