Dutch court says no to plan to limit flights at Schiphol Airport

In a blow to the climate lobby, a Dutch court has overruled a government plan to cap flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport at 460,000 in 2023-2024.

The move represents a major victory for KLM and other airlines that had brought the case forward.

Schiphol is a major international travel hub: 104 airlines fly to 97 countries and 332 direct destinations, with Air France-KLM the largest airline.

The Dutch government originally announced the cap in February, calling it a temporary solution to cut noise pollution and to tackle other environmental issues.

However, the decision caused major umbrage amongst the airlines, who subsequently took the government to court over the plans, saying the cuts would hurt them, the Dutch economy and travellers, and that alternative workable solutions had not been considered.

They airlines also said the government plans to cap flights from November 2023 to October 2024 at 460,000 had not been properly vetted and that they had already made investment on the basis of a 500,000 cap agreed in 2015.

The Noord Holland District Court, in a preliminary decision, said the government had “not followed the correct procedure” in deciding to impose the limit.

“The state must consult with all interested parties and a reduction in the number of flight movements is only allowed when it is clear that other measures to reduce noise nuisance are not sufficient.”

KLM said it was satisfied with the decision and it believed that noise and other kinds of pollution could be reduced in other ways.

The decision comes in the same week that Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport announced it aims to eliminate overnight flights by the end of 2025.

It also wants to ban private jet flights within certain time periods.

The move is part of a push to reduce noise pollution and lower CO2 emissions, according to Dutch newspaper Het Parool.