Dutch government suspends Amsterdam Schiphol’s “Experimental Ruling” flight cap


Amsterdam Schiphol, one of Europe’s busiest airports, is facing a turbulent period as the Dutch government announces the suspension of the Experimental Ruling, this means that the maximum of 460,000 flights no longer applies. The decision has elicited disappointment from the airport authorities, raising concerns about the impact on local residents and the aviation sector. Amsterdam Schiphol emphasises the need for clarity and certainty, particularly for those living in proximity to the airport.

Schiphol’s Perspective

While Schiphol acknowledges that reducing the number of flights is not its primary goal, the Experimental Ruling provided a framework that offered clarity and certainty for local residents. The airport contends that reverting to ‘anticipatory enforcement’ introduces more uncertainty, not only for the affected communities but also for the aviation sector itself. Schiphol emphasises the urgency of reducing inconvenience for local residents, highlighting the importance of measures like a night closure and the implementation of its comprehensive 8-point plan.

Dutch Government’s Decision

The Dutch Minister van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat sheds light on the government’s decision through a Kamerbrief (Chamber Letter) dated November 14, 2023 and issued by Mark Harbers, the Dutch minister for Infrastructure. The decision to suspend the Experimental Ruling is attributed to external pressures, notably a decision by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). The United States and Canada claim that the Netherlands violated the EU-US Open Skies agreement, leading to concerns of retaliatory measures.

The minister outlines key points:

  1. The suspension of spoor 1 (track 1) of the Hoofdlijnenbesluit Schiphol after reconsideration in light of the ongoing legal process and potential infringement procedures.
  2. The commitment to maintaining the balance between Schiphol and its environment, with a determination to proceed with the balanced approach procedure (spoor 2).
  3. Urgent calls on KLM, as the largest user of Schiphol, to take measures to limit noise pollution.
  4. The imminent publication of a regulatory amendment to suspend the implementation of the experimental regulation, with the Inspectorate for Transport and Environment (ILT) receiving instructions to continue anticipatory enforcement. Schiphol will need to reassess its operational capacity for the summer season of 2024.
  5. Acknowledgment of the bitter consequences of suspending anticipatory enforcement, with a commitment to restoring balance around Schiphol.

Global Ramifications

The decision by the USDOT, based on complaints from airlines like JetBlue and Airlines for America (A4A), underscores global concerns about adherence to aviation agreements. The letter from Eurocommissaris Valean adds an additional layer of complexity, with serious worries about the balanced approach procedure and a potential infringement procedure looming.



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