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The Netherlands said Friday it would limit Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to 440,000 flights annually, down from a pre-pandemic level of 500,000, to stem noise pollution and make an environmental statement. Online News
The government said in a statement that it was “prioritising noise pollution” but acknowledged that it was “sending a difficult message to the aviation sector”.
The reduction in aircraft movements, which is expected to be introduced from November 2023, will also lead to “less noise pollution and less CO2, nitrogen emissions”, the government said in a letter to parliament.
But it added that reducing nitrogen emissions was “not the reason for this decision”.
“A lot remains unclear,” Schiphol said, adding that “significant risks are being taken on the quality of the network” of routes flown.
Residents of the area around Schiphol, a densely populated zone, have regularly complained about the airport’s noise nuisance, and expressed concerns about the effects of aviation on their health, nature and climate.
Dutch Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers acknowledged that the decision contains “a difficult message for the aviation sector”, which is still recovering from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
It was a further setback for the airport, which announced earlier this month that it would limit the number of travellers this summer and cancel flights to avoid congestion at the airport, which in recent weeks has seen long queues due to a shortage of staff.
But the government said that “with this number of flights, Schiphol can maintain its international network of destinations,” sparking derision from aviation firms.
A 2022 report by the European arm of the International Airports Council (ACI Europe) ranks Amsterdam-Schiphol airport as the leading airport in Europe in terms of direct air connectivity.
“The decision of the government to significantly reduce the capacity of the airport will make the Netherlands smaller,” ACI Europe chief executive Olivier Jankovec said in a statement.
IATA chief executive Willie Walsh said the decision was a “shocking blow”.
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