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Cuts to international flights as Dutch are ‘tired of over-tourism’

One of the busiest airports in Europe is set to reduce flights in a bid to cut airline emissions.

Last year, the Dutch government announced it would reduce the cap on flights allowed each year at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam’s busiest airport, citing noise and air pollution concerns.

Schiphol Group, the airport’s management company said in a statement the reduction from 500,000 annual aircraft movements to 460,000 was a “necessary interim step”, that would ensure certainty in advance of a new Air Traffic Decree.

The step should provide certainty not only for airlines but also local residents, Schiphol said.

The new limit will come into effect in November this year and in 2024, flight movements will be restricted to 440,000 a year, Dutch News reported.

‘Nuisance tourists’

In 2019, it was estimated the Netherlands welcomed over 20 million tourists. Now, Dutch officials are hoping to change that. The City of Amsterdam recently launched a new campaign to deter “nuisance tourists”.

Starting in May, visitors will no longer be able to smoke marijuana on the streets of Amsterdam.

There will also be restrictions on alcohol sales, with bars and sex-work establishments to be slapped with curfews – spelling trouble for the city’s many 24-hour venues.

And to address overcrowding and ‘over-tourism’, the city will be limiting the number of river cruises and Airbnb rental properties, with many hotels to be repurposed into residential and office buildings.

‘Negative effects’

Back in 2022, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management noted while the airport plays a vital role in connecting the country to the rest of the world, it sits in a highly urbanised area and has “negative effects” on those living nearby.

“Local residents are exposed to aircraft noise and are also concerned about the impact of the airport on their health, the natural environment and the climate more generally,” the department stated.

Schiphol Group, in a statement on March 21, backed the change saying the new decree that contains hard environmental limits would protect residents and the environment.

The group also believes the decree should be implemented as soon as possible.

“These environmental limits will make it clear to the aviation sector what is and is not possible,” Schiphol said.

“There should also be scope for reward within these limits, in the event that aviation proves to be quieter and cleaner. That system is still in the works, however, and a situation which sees two systems operating along separate tracks is far from ideal.”

With the goal being to reduce CO2 emissions, the Dutch transport ministry said in a statement to CNN that Schiphol and other affected airports, could spread the reduction over several years.

“The maximum CO2 emissions set for each airport will apply for several years, so that an exceedance in one year can be compensated in subsequent years,” the Dutch Transport Ministry said.

“The policy will help the country meet its carbon goal.”

Airlines challenge changes

KLM, the country’s flagship airline, along with other airlines, like JetBlue and Delta are not content with the prospect of international flights being slashed.

KLM said sustainable policies should be regulated internationally.

Being the only country in the world to set up a national CO2-ceiling does not match with an internationally operating sector and international policy,” the airline said.

KLM, along with other airlines, have taken the government to court on the reductions in flight movements out of Amsterdam.

The airlines are confident they can reduce noise levels and CO2 emissions while maintaining the network that provides services for  passengers and cargo, Dutch News reported.

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