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How the change in the Netherlands could affect your trip through Europe
The Netherlands is determined to transform its air travel sector after announcing that Schiphol Airport will operate under a cap from 2023. The decision is multi-faceted, trying to address climate change and a shift away from the airport’s reputation as a hub transfer.
Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands’ busiest airport and one of the world’s busiest, announced last month that it would begin limiting the number of flights flying to and from the hub. The published figure suggested that no more than 440,000 flights a year would be allowed to depart from Schiphol.
The move is largely climate change oriented, and the figure corresponds to an approximate twenty percent drop from the airport’s pre-pandemic figures and is a a first for any major airport in the world. The decision was greeted with joy by environmental activists, but with disappointment by some other airlines and airports, who will now feel pressure to react similarly.
In a direct way, passengers may be affected by suddenly rising costs as supply shrinks, but the decision is also part of a wider change in direction by the Dutch government.
Schiphol is known for its calculated role as a hub airport. Millions of passengers move through the airport every year, attracted by relatively low costs and high connectivity. The latest figures place it as one of the most connected airports in the world.
Many travelers deliberately reroute their journey through Schiphol instead of taking direct flights from their home airports or passing through other major airports which are often more expensive. The United Kingdom, in particular, uses the Dutch hub as a cheap alternative to Heathrow, due to its proximity to the country. A tourist traveling from a city like Newcastle in the north of England would see much more value in a cheap cross-channel flight than dealing with Heathrow.
KLM, the largest airline presence at Schiphol, says this position is now untenable in light of the limits.
It appears that the move was a government-wide plan, as the country’s officials have already increased the flight tax for the Netherlands. Schiphol took similar measures and increased taxes on the airlines themselves, putting more pressure on airlines to avoid cheap routes and maximize the type of flights they offer. One member of parliament said of the taxes, “Through these measures, you know that Schiphol will no longer be a free island.”
How soon the changes are likely to be seen is hard to say, but regular travelers who use Schiphol frequently should anticipate a change in its connectivity, especially for cheaper short-haul flights around Western Europe or long-haul flights. longer connecting through the airport.
The airport also currently operates under a separate, unrelated cover due to the travel chaos seen around the world. Again, Schiphol’s hub reputation has made the problems more acute, with massive lines, significant delays and baggage problems forcing the airport. American Airlines even took the decision to stop operating at Schiphol Airport until the problems subside.
It joins Heathrow, Gatwick and Frankfurt in restricting summer flights in a bid to ease pressure on handling staff as they try to fill vacancies during the pandemic. The cap brought in in 2023 will be larger.
Although Schiphol is the first major airport to change its policies so drastically for environmental reasons, the changes are being seen across the industry. In 2021, France took the bold step of banning short-haul flights if a bus or train was available as an alternative.
Under the rule, any flight where one could take a bus or train to the destination in two and a half hours or less was no longer allowed. Other countries are considering similar rules, but will likely wait until the industry settles back into a more typical routine.
Routes between 3000 km and 5000 km are generally seen as the best for the environment.
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