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IATA Publishes Response To Proposed Flight Cuts At Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has published its response to Amsterdam Schiphol's proposed flight cuts, warning of severe consequences for passenger and cargo operations if the cuts are rushed through.

IATA against flight cuts under current government

The aviation body - joined by Airlines for America (A4A), European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), and European Regions Airline Association (ERA) - released a statement warning that Amsterdam Schiphol Airport's (AMS) flight reduction plan must not be rushed through under the current caretaker government. A caretaker government - likely to remain in charge until the end of the year - has been in place in the Netherlands for almost two months and is trying to push through the flight cuts sooner rather than later.

IATA has called for the move to be postponed, deeming the plan a "controversial measure that remains before the courts." It adds that the cuts are opposed by the aviation industry and require "proper democratic scrutiny and political accountability," which cannot be delivered by a caretaker administration. Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General, commented:

"It is essential that any decision be postponed until a fully functioning and accountable government with a fresh mandate is in place. This unprecedented and complex proposal can then be considered carefully, with the legal questions settled and the full facts and implications understood and in the public domain, and with sufficient time for the air transport industry to adapt if necessary, when a final decision is known."

Should the caretaker government continue to push through the cuts, IATA claims it would be irresponsible on several levels, including "a contempt of the necessary democratic and legal scrutiny" and damaging the local and national economy. Flight reductions should be last resort

IATA argues that, under the internationally agreed and EU-supported 'Balanced Approach' to aircraft noise management, flight restrictions are considered the last resort when tackling noise emissions. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the four tenets of noise reduction are:

  • Reduction of noise at source: Encouraging the operation of quieter aircraft

  • Land-use planning and management: Zoning, legislation, tax incentives etc...

  • Noise abatement operational procedures: Preferential aircraft routing, takeoff/landing procedures

  • Operating restrictions on aircraft: Banning or limiting noisier aircraft, reducing flight movements

A court initially ruled against the flight cuts on the ground that it violated the Balanced Approach, but the Dutch government succeeded with a legal appeal - IATA and a coalition of airlines and associations are currently undertaking Supreme Court cassation proceedings against this decision. Should the cuts be forced through, IATA warns of possible legal ramifications and retaliatory international action. What's the latest with Schiphol?

In July, the Dutch government won its case with the high court to proceed with the plan, which will see flight operations cut by 12% from 500,000 to 440,000 annual flight movements in 2024. In fact, the government wanted the cuts to be implemented as early as Summer 2023, but this was rejected in a court ruling. Earlier this summer, IATA chief Willie Walsh derided Schiphol Airport for "having no shame" after hiking its fees despite a poor operational performance in 2022. However, after releasing its first half-year operational results this week, Schiphol claims to be at "the beginning of a turnaround" after its well-publicized woes last year.


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