By Victor Shalton
KLM Talks of Fleet Renewal as Alternative to Schiphol Airport Contraction Plan
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has put forward the renewal of its fleet with more economical latest generation aircraft as alternatives to the Dutch government’s green policy plans to cap capacity at Amsterdam Schiphol, arguing that fleet renewal would be a better option for reducing noise and carbon emissions.
Based at Amsterdam-Schiphol airport, the Dutch national airline last week reiterated its position on the government’s decision to continue to cap the number of departing passengers, a cap that could potentially cut the number of flight movements at the airport from 500,000 to 440,000 annually by the end of 2023 for five years while developing a new system of environmental standards. The lawmakers also proposed switching flights from Schiphol to Lelystad to safeguard route networks.
In a press release dated Oct. 6, the carrier argued that reduced airport capacity would benefit neither travelers nor the broader route network nor the Netherlands in general.
“Moreover, it restricts the earning capacity of airlines wanting to invest in sustainability. Fleet renewal offers a better alternative than capacity reduction. It will ensure a greater reduction in noise and emissions and allow travelers to keep flying. This will enable us to strike a better balance in the interests of Schiphol, the environment, the surrounding community, and travelers. We would like to discuss this alternative with the Dutch government,” the airline said.
“I share the cabinet’s aim of striking a balance between the interests of a good airport, the surrounding community, and the environment,” elaborated KLM CEO Marjan Rintel.
“To this, I want to add the interests of 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 a better solution for all. This is the issue I would like to address with the government.”
KLM could potentially drop up to 30 destinations from its network if the Dutch government proceeds with its plans to impose the “green cap” limiting movements at Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS) to minimize noise pollution and CO2 emissions.
The NL Times, for example, cites a possible scenario of 25 European destinations removed by the SkyTeam alliance member, in addition to five on the long haul These capacity limitations could affect “travelers going to cities such as Kyiv, Porto, Belgrade, Montreal, Boston, Taipei or Osaka”.
According to the airline, the cap does not reflect KLM’s fleet-renewal plans, which include the incorporation of less noisy and more efficient aircraft. If these are taken into account, Schiphol could operate 500,000 movements annually with less noise pollution than the government’s 440,000-movement cap. KLM urged the lawmakers to re-run their calculations regarding Schiphol noise based on this data, rather than fleet details from 2018.
Speaking at the Aviation Festival in Amsterdam, KLM CEO Marjan Rintel acknowledged that a proposal has been submitted to the government regarding the cap. She gave few details but said that KLM hopes to retain the current 500,000-movement cap and meet the government’s sustainability objectives through fleet renewal, rather than traffic limits.