By John Flett
KLM Promotes Fleet Renewal to Reverse Proposed Capacity Cuts at Schiphol
KLM is proposing a fleet renewal program as the main solution to reducing noise pollution and CO2 emissions at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The announcement comes after the Netherlands parliament proposed cutting the number of annual flight movements at the airline’s hub from 500,000 to 440,000 by the end of 2023. The NL Times reports that the imposed measures would inflict ‘significant damage’ on the airline’s network and may result in the cutting of 30 routes with European destinations the hardest hit.
The Times cites a possible scenario of 25 European destinations being removed from the airline’s schedule with several long-haul routes also being cut. Transit travel through the Netherlands hub may affect travelers heading to cities such as Kyiv, Porto, Belgrade, Montreal, Boston, Taipei and Osaka.
KLM chief executive officer Marjan Rintel said, “I share the cabinet’s aim of striking a balance between the interests of a good airport, the surrounding community and the environment. To this, I want to add the interests of (air) travelers. The cabinet’s current solution is to strike a better balance by reducing operational capacity at Schiphol. Calculations show that fleet renewal is a better alternative for reducing noise and CO2 emissions. This implies that it is the better solution for all. This is the issue I would like to address with the government. Purely on the basis of facts and figures.”
The methodology applied by the Netherlands parliament to reach the flight movement targets has been criticized by a number of parties calling the plans ‘arbitrary,’ ‘one-sided,’ and ‘poorly substantiated.’ A report on the Dutch current affairs television program EénVandaag cited by the NL Times said that external experts from Erasmus University, SEO, and CE Delft consulted by the government after the decision had been made had all been critical of the decision.
According to the EénVandaag story the 440,000 capacity figure ‘is the minimum number required to guarantee Schiphol remains well connected to the world.’ The NL Times reported: “The Ministry looked at the 178 most important cities for business travelers Schiphol was connected to in 2019. Those require 296,000 flights per year. It also looked at Schiphol being connected to 385 cities, which would require 426,000 flights per year. The Ministry took an average of the two scenarios and added 2,000 flights to five special destinations – Suriname and the Caribbean Netherlands – plus 15 percent for holiday flights and another 5 percent as an uncertainty margin. The Cabinet rounded up and went for 440,000 flight movements per year.”
Floris de Haan from Erasmus University says that the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management’s method “gives a simplified representation of reality. Whatever model you choose, it will always have shortcomings. At the moment, the analysis results are one-sided.” CNN quotes Dick Benschop, outgoing president and CEO of Royal Schiphol Group as calling the Ministry proposal a “very risky approach.”