Schiphol Airport is looking at eliminating all overnight flights by the end of 2025, but possibly even by the end of 2024. That decision could also push up the price of vacations as a result. The airport is also planning to eliminate all private jet flights that take off and land at the airport during that timeframe, the airport’s interim CEO, Ruud Sondag, told Parool. Schiphol also wants to prevent loud, outdated aircraft from using the airport.
The proposals will gradually be phased in starting in November. They are part of the airport’s plan to tackle the nuisance people living in the area face due to excessive noise. Schiphol predicted the changes would significantly reduce the “serious nuisance” that about 17,500 nearby residents face. Just the ban on overnight flights will cut down on “serious sleep disturbances” by over 54 percent, or roughly 13,000 fewer incidents.
A ban on overnight flights would cut all commercial passenger flights and cargo flights scheduled for departure between midnight and 6 a.m., Sondag told the newspaper. Aircraft will also not be allowed to land between midnight and 5 a.m. Exceptions will be made for issues related to safety or emergencies.
“We see the problems with overnight flights increasing year in, year out. If risks increase, then you have to do something about it. We will now make short work of it,” Sondag told newspaper AD. About 10,000 flights take place during the overnight hours.
The issue would have a significant impact on holiday flights to and from the airport, but also potentially the use of Schiphol as a hub where passengers transfer via Amsterdam to flights leaving for other destinations. Though Sondag would prefer the elimination of overnight flights to happen by the end of 2024, it can only happen in coordination with the airlines, “because it does indeed have a significant impact.”
Transavia could be the airline most impacted by the change. Transavia is owned by Air France – KLM, and about 55 percent of its flights involving Schiphol either depart or land during the overnight period.
Parool noted that many of the budget airlines that specialize in tourist travel try to use their aircraft as many times as possible in a day, thus limiting the amount of time that the aircraft are out of service. Thus, budget airlines often have flights scheduled to depart or land during the overnight period as well as throughout the day.
If the airlines are unable to get maximum value out of their aircraft, they will likely push up the price of their flights as a result, Parool speculated. “The consequences are significant,” Sondag acknowledged in his interview with AD. “That is the dilemma of balancing the interests of holidaymakers and local residents.”
Sondag said that the airport reviewed the effect the overnight shutdown would have on KLM and partner airlines, which often have flights arriving from North America in the early morning hours. Passengers from those airplanes also transfer to other flights once in Amsterdam. Sondag said the impact on KLM’s alliance would be limited. “We will give priority to Schiphol’s network. That is why arriving flights can land again at 5 a.m. to spare the transfer network.”
Additionally, by getting rid of most private passenger flights, Schiphol could potentially reduce its flight movement total by 17,000 flights annually. It is not clear if government flights would be subject to the ban.
The elimination of private flights would not impact police helicopters, trauma helicopters, and Coast Guard flights, Sondag said. The police and trauma helicopters alone accounted for about 5,500 flights last year.
The interim CEO also intends to gradually forbid loud, outdated aircraft from landing at Schiphol. This could include aircraft like the Boeing 747-400, which is now used most often for cargo flights at Schiphol. He told the newspaper that the phasing out period will begin in November, and that the aircraft causing the worst noise disturbances will be banned by the end of 2025.
Sondag said the proposals are meant to rebuild trust with local residents, and he expanded on that by saying the airport will no longer press forward with plans for a new runway. Additionally, it is also setting up a fund for more noise mitigation initiatives
What remains to be seen is if the proposal might be enough to get the national government to back down from its plan to slash the number of flight movements at Schiphol from 500,000 down to 440,000 primarily to appease neighbors who have taken issue with the noise at the airport, as well as the air pollution levels.
He denied that Schiphol’s plan is a response to the lawsuit filed by KLM and other airlines against the Cabinet’s plan, with a court set to rule on an injunction request on Wednesday. Under his leadership the airport is no longer focusing on “growth, growth, growth as the Holy Grail,” he told AD.
“We are calling on the Cabinet to come up with a flight system with strict limits for noise and emissions as soon as possible,” said the CEO, adding that it would be “in line with the Paris climate agreement. That is much better than a limit on the number of flights, as is currently the case.”
The Dutch State is the majority owner of the Royal Schiphol Group, holding nearly 70 percent of the shares. The City of Amsterdam holds 20 percent, and Rotterdam just over 2 percent. Airport operator Groupe ADP owns the remaining 8 percent.
The Dutch State also owns 9.3 percent of the Air France – KLM Group.
Leave a Reply