DALLAS – The cabinet of the Netherlands has decided that Amsterdam-Schiphol Airport (AMS) will only handle a maximum of 440,000 flights annually starting in November 2022. The Dutch cabinet is the main executive body of the Netherlands.
The decision is an unprecedented move by the Dutch government to reduce noise pollution in order to advance its sustainability goals and the well-being of those living in the densely populated area in what is one of the busiest regions of the nation.
According to aircargoeye.com, the Dutch government cites the potential opening of neighboring Lelystad Airport (LEY) for passenger travel to supplement the destinations currently served by AMS, provided that a nature permit is granted to Lelystad and the issue of low approach routes is resolved.
The Dutch government insists that this maximum number of flights will still allow AMS to maintain its international route network. However, it won’t make a definitive choice about the Lelystad location until the summer of 2024.
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport the world’s third busiest airport by international passenger traffic in 2021. With almost 72 million passengers in 2019, it was the third-busiest airport in Europe in terms of passenger volume and the busiest in Europe in terms of aircraft movements before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, AMS was the 4th busiest in Europe as of 2019, with an annual cargo tonnage of 1.74 million.
Comments from the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure, AMS
“Local residents are exposed to aircraft noise and are also concerned about the impact of the airport on their health, the natural environment, and the climate more generally,” says a statement by the Dutch cabinet.
“The government seeks to strike a balance between the importance of having a large international airport – which is also good for the business community – and of a better, healthier living environment,” it adds.
The controversial proposal proffered to the cabinet by Mark Harbers, the country’s minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, was approved on June 24, 2021. “Considering the public interests involved, the government has decided to prioritise tackling noise nuisance, while ensuring that the airport can continue to fullfil its economic role,” the minister points out.
Harbers added, “I want to offer certainty, including about the future, to the aviation sector and to those who live in the vicinity of the airport. This decision serves as a foundation for establishing a new balance.”
He also acknowledged that it’s bad news for the aviation industry, which is still recuperating from the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastating effects. “I am very much aware of this. We will now be fleshing out the details of our decision on Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, together with local residents and aviation stakeholders.”
On its part, the airport has stated that its “mission is to connect the Netherlands with the world and at the same time to accelerate the reduction of our impact on the environment and climate.” AMS reiterated that it was not “aiming for growth for the sake of growth, nor for contraction for the sake of contraction.”
“We are in favour of a well-thought-out approach that leads to the intended goal: connecting the Netherlands with the world as an increasingly quieter and cleaner Schiphol, adding that it would “continue to invest in that balance” among “local residents, governments, and the aviation sector.”
Featured image: AMS. Photo: Schiphol Group