Airliner World – June 2023
English | 118 pages | pdf | 29.62 MB
Welcome at Airliner World Magazine June 2023 Issue
Those of you who follow industry developments will undoubtedly be aware of the remarkable legal battle currently being waged in the Netherlands. In the green corner is the Dutch government,
moving to reduce the number of flights at Amsterdam/Schiphol on environmental and noise-pollution grounds. In the red corner, the International Air Transport Association
(IATA) and a consortium of airlines trying to block the restriction. Airports and carriers have had their fair share of spats over the years.
Even now, there are various highprofi le cases rumbling on: Spanish regulators have sided with airlines and rejected operator Aena’s request to raise handling charges as a means of recouping
its pandemic-induced losses, while a similar row is also brewing at London/Heathrow.
Where the Schiphol scrap diff ers is that it appears on almost every front to be a spectacular own goal for the Dutch government. With the industry still reeling from COVID-19 and a disastrous summer 2022, where many major European hubs were simply unable to cope with the sudden surge in demand, one would think airports and airlines would be equally keen to work together to bolster growth.
As a national asset, Schiphol delivers huge economic benefi ts – before the pandemic, aviation was contributing €22 billion to the country’s GDP, of which the national hub was a key driver, Amsterdam was the third-best internationally connected city inEurope after London and Paris, and the Netherlands was among the top five export countries, despite being the 28th largest global economy. So it’s surprising that the airport operator, the Royal Schiphol Group, accepted the decision to reduce annual movements from 500,000 to 460,000 from November as “a necessary intermediary stage”, although it has refused to rule out future growth provided its green targets are met.
The environmental and noise impacts of commercial aviation are long-standing issues and the challenges well understood, but mitigation measures are in place and are constantly evolving as new technology is implemented. At Schiphol, airlines are already incentivised to use quieter aircraft, flight paths over less populated areas are favoured and it has installed noise-refl ecting ridges that reduce disturbance to local residents.
The most disconcerting element for airlines is that the cap on movements – a stated government policy – was imposed without considering any workable alternative solutions and without any meaningful consultation (indeed, the latter complaint has now been upheld by a Dutch court). And that’s before you get bogged down in the logistics of how to fairly impose such restrictions on airlines, some of which have invested heavily in the belief they would be able to fully restore their pre-COVID networks.
Schiphol has even laid down a series of measures intended to deliver what it dubbed “quieter, cleaner and better aviation”, including a curfew between 0000-0600hrs for departures (0000-
0500hrs for arrivals) and a ban on private and noisier aircraft, with ringfenced slots for cargo traffi c, while plans for a second Kaagbaan runway have been scrapped. The latest court decision provides temporary respite for IATA and the airlines, but with the government having lodged an appeal, it’s clear this battle will continue for a while to come and it’s possible an amicable solution may never be found.
Editor, Commercial Aviation