Several airlines are preparing to start a legal battle against a recent court ruling that entitles the Dutch government to reduce the number of annual flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport from 500,000 to 46,0000.
The Amsterdam Court of Appeal’s decision, which overturned a lower court’s verdict, has paved the way for the government to enforce flight reductions, set to commence in November 2023.
The European Regions Airline Association (ERA) has taken the lead, announcing its intent to initiate “cassation proceedings” in collaboration with several airlines, challenging the Amsterdam Court of Appeal’s decision.
Noteworthy industry airlines, including the KLM Group, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and JetBlue, and reputable associations, such as International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airlines for America, have supported the cause. ERA has also gained the support of Airlines for Europe (A4E) in this significant action for travel and tourism.
In a joint statement, the airlines and aviation associations expressed their reservations about the current ruling, citing its consequences on passengers and the aviation sector as a whole.
“This is because it is unclear how the experimental scheme will be applied, how it should be enforced and ultimately how the ruling will affect the number of aircraft movements at Schiphol airport,” the statement reads.
ERA and the airlines also assert that the Amsterdam Court of Appeal’s judgement contravenes national regulations and European and international norms. Such conflicting interpretations have raised alarms among all parties involved.
The airlines emphasise the urgent need for a definitive resolution addressing these regulatory consistencies as well.
According to the Information and Services Center at Schiphol Airport, during June, the number of flights reached 40,366, whereas the number of countries chosen by passengers as their destinations was 87. In addition, the number of routes was estimated to be 702, and the number of airlines was 163.
As reported by the same source, the overall number of passengers who used Schiphol Airport in 2022 was 48.3 million representing an increase of 89.75 per cent compared to the previous year.
Meanwhile, only in March 2023, the number of passengers that used Schiphol Airport for their flights was 4.5 million meaning 22.86 per cent more than the numbers registered in March 2022.
In the same month, Schiphol Airport announced that it plans to reduce the number of flights to 460,000 per year to minimise noise pollution as well as emissions. Although the reduction of flights was considered a necessary step by the main international airport of the Netherlands, the (IATA) and several airlines have disagreed by legally challenging the Netherlands for their decision of flight reduction.
IATA asserts that the Dutch government’s action violates the Chicago Convention, which establishes that flight cancellations should only be used as the last option, as well as EU Regulation 598/2014 on noise-related operating restrictions at European Union airports.