Dutch government abandons plans to reduce flights at Amsterdam Airport

The Dutch government has backed down from plans to reduce flights at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, after being pressured by airlines, the EU, and the US Government.

The U-turn was a blow for one of the highest-profile attempts to limit air travel on environmental grounds. It came after the Dutch Government said that the US had threatened to “countermeasures”, against restrictions placed on carriers landing at hub airports.

Mark Harbers said that in a letter sent to the parliament on Tuesday, this decision was “a bitter pill to swallow”. He added that after the Dutch appellate court in July upheld the administration’s flight limit, the government was “committed” to restoring balance between Schiphol Airport and the surrounding area.

Airlines lobbied fiercely against the proposal to reduce the number flights at the airport by 8 percent to 460,000 per year at one Europe’s busiest centers, which was the most drastic measure yet in the EU for noise and pollution from the aviation industry.

The campaign to limit flight was motivated by the impact that flying has on local communities, such as aircraft noise, and nitrogen dioxide emissions. It wasn’t about the global warming effect of flying.

It was seen as a litmus-test for the governments’ ability to reduce flying in order to combat climate change.

Privately, senior industry executives warned that the Dutch cap on flights could be the beginning of more measures to limit growth in Europe.

Harbers stated that the US Department of Transportation issued an order earlier this month indicating the reduction in capacity “would be unfair and discriminatory for airlines”.

Harbers said that this order is “the first step” in countermeasures by the US.

Harbers stated that Brussels also “expressed serious concerns” regarding the plan. The Canadian government also expressed their own concerns.

Willie Walsh said that he was “welcomed” by the Dutch government’s common sense.

He said that maintaining Schiphol’s capacity was good for the economy, jobs, choice and convenience of travellers, as well as better trade relationships.

The airlines have committed to achieving net zero carbon emission by 2050. This will be achieved primarily through the use less polluting fossil fuels.

Schiphol stated that it was “disappointed”. . . As local residents get the short end.”

Airport officials had said they were willing to sacrifice their growth to be “quieter and cleaner”. They also proposed a ban on private jets and night flights.