KLM: ‘Green Cap’ On Schiphol Movements Threatens Airport’s Global Status

The carrier said its network will ‘no longer be tenable’ if cap is imposed.

Credit: KLM

KLM hit back at the Dutch government’s announcement that it will put a “green cap” on future aircraft movements at Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS), saying it will affect the airport’s status as a global hub.

The announcement by the Dutch government to cap annual aircraft movements at 440,000 from 2023 would lower AMS’s potential capacity from already achieved pre-pandemic levels and, according to KLM, would lower AMS’s capacity by 20% compared to the potential 540,000 annual movements anticipated in the future.

The Netherlands is aiming to decrease aviation emissions and noise at AMS. KLM said it was caught off guard by the announcement, which comes on the heels of AMS capping short-term capacity because of staffing shortages.   

KLM said the new long-term cap was announced by the Dutch government “without prior deliberation and proper argumentation,” adding: “KLM has not received any written notification or clear plans. KLM looks forward to receiving further details and will, in the meantime, consider what steps it may take in response.”

KLM said the cap would negatively affect connectivity at AMS. “KLM’s network connects the Netherlands with almost all of the world’s key economic centers,” KLM said in a statement. “This is important because the Netherlands is an international trading nation and because accessibility is a deciding factor for international corporations that establish offices in Europe … The proposed major cutbacks in aircraft movements undermine the hub function.”

Further, KLM said, the flights cap will force many travelers to move to other modes of transport, which will negate the environmental benefit the government is trying to achieve.

The SkyTeam airline added: “People wish to keep flying to places that are not yet, swiftly or easily, accessible by car or train. If KLM has to reduce the number of flights, travelers will opt for other, less efficient routes to the same destination. The environmental impact will remain the same. KLM urges the government to take measures that will effectively improve sustainability, such as supporting the production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and the realization of a Single European Sky that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10%.”

KLM said the cap would cut down on passenger transfers at AMS: “Operating fewer flights also means offering fewer logical connections. Consequently, flights cannot be optimally booked and operations become less profitable. The frequencies offered and number of destinations … will decrease. Shrinking, therefore, impacts KLM disproportionately hard and significantly erodes its hub function.”

The airline warned that “destinations will … disappear from the network,” adding: “KLM’s intricately connected network—currently serving 170 destinations—will then no longer be tenable. And this outcome will take shape quickly.”