Top airlines including KLM, Delta and EasyJet said Friday they are taking the Dutch government to court over plans to limit flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport for environmental reasons.The Netherlands said in June that it would cut flights at Schiphol to 440,000 annually by 2024, down from a pre-Covid level of 500,000, to stem noise pollution and emissions.
The airlines, along with TUI and Corendon, were taking legal action “to keep the Netherlands connected to the rest of the world via Schiphol Airport,” KLM said in a statement.
They accused the Dutch government of breaching local, EU and international law with the “incomprehensible” decision, and of ignoring their efforts to be more environmentally friendly. “As the government appears not to hear our call, unfortunately we find ourselves compelled to take legal action,” KLM chief executive Marjan Rintel said.
The Dutch flag carrier and its subsidiaries account for some 60 per cent of air traffic at Schiphol, one of Europe’s busiest hubs.
US-based Delta said it “strongly objected” to the Schiphol limits while Britain’s EasyJet branded the Dutch government move “arbitrary”.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it too would take legal action over the “job-destroying hostile approach to aviation”. “The dangerous precedent that this illegal approach creates left no choice but to challenge them in court,” IATA chief Willie Walsh said.
Flights at Schiphol had already been limited over the past year by severe post-pandemic staff shortages that caused massive queues, lost luggage and cancellations.
But the Dutch government then said it would restrict flights to 460,000 annually by November 2023 and 440,000 the following year. It said at the time that it was “prioritising noise pollution” but acknowledged that it was “sending a difficult message to the aviation sector”.
Residents of the area around Schiphol, a densely populated zone, have regularly complained about the airport’s noise nuisance, and expressed concerns about the effects of aviation on their health, nature and climate.