On Friday, the Dutch government said that it will cut the maximum number of flights allowed in and out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, the country’s busiest airport and airline hub, in an attempt to reduce air and noise pollution. 

Schiphol Airport is the third busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic.

Further details

The Dutch government, in an attempt to reduce air and noise pollution, wishes to cut the maximum number of flights allowed to and from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from approximately 500,000 to 440,000. The decision is expected to be operational by late next year. 

While this is positive news for environmentalists and climate change activists, and a positive step in aviation’s mission to reduce its harmful effect on the world via various emissions, the cut will act as a negative blow to the airport who would have welcomed as many passengers as they could manage in an attempt to recover post-pandemic. 

The Dutch government building
The Dutch government is a parliamentary democracy. There are 12 Dutch ministries – the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management was actively involved in this decision. | © Getty Images

However, Schiphol has not been managing. The past couple of weeks has seen the international airport struggle with cancellations and hours-long queues amid security staff shortages. 

The airport even announced last week that it will be temporarily reducing the number of passengers it will handle daily to around 13,500 over the busy summer season of travel because of these disruptions. 

However, the Dutch government is focused on looking for ways to cut CO2 emissions and the emissions of other pollutants such as nitrogen oxide. One method, deemed necessary by the government is to cut the airport’s traffic and therefore slightly disrupt its growth and notoriety as such a busy European hub. 

Exterior of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport
On 7 June, the airport reported that due to the amount of travellers expected to travel through the airport being so huge, a cap on the number of departing customers over the summer was necessary to tackle long queues. | © Studioportosabbia | Dreamstime

Infrastructure and Water Management Minister Mark Harbers commented on the decision:

“This decision forms the basis for a new equilibrium. Unfortunately, it contains a difficult message for the aviation sector, which is still fully recovering from the drastic consequences of the corona pandemic.”

He also states that he wishes to offer both certainty and perspective to the aviation sector and local residents regarding this matter. 

In a statement in response to the Dutch government’s plans, Schiphol said that it does support a “well-thought-out approach” that will lead to the airport’s goal of connecting the Netherlands with the world “as an increasingly quieter and cleaner Schiphol.” However, the airport believes that the plans “lead to great uncertainty, and much remains unclear. We see that major risks are being taken with regard to the quality of the network.” 

In reaction to leaked information before it had been confirmed, non-profit environmental global campaigning network Greenpeace approved of the plans and considered the decision as a historic turning point. 

Greenpeace aviation expert Dewi Zloch said:

“It is good that the Cabinet realizes that Schiphol has, for years, been flying beyond all boundaries when it comes to noise, nitrogen, ultrafine particles, and the climate […] This is an impetus for Schiphol to finally come up with a plan that takes into account the Paris Climate Agreement.”

What do you make of the Dutch government’s plans? Have you travelled to Schiphol? Let us know in the comments below.

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