KLM, IATA plan legal challenges over cap on Schiphol flights

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AMSTERDAM, March 3 (Reuters) – KLM and other airlines that use Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Friday said they are suing the Dutch government over its plan to cap the number of annual flights allowed at the airport, saying it is would hurt them, the Dutch economy and travelers.

A spokesperson for KLM, the Dutch arm of the Air France-KLM Group , which accounts for 60% of flights at Schiphol said the companies involved have sent a summons for the government to appear in a summary suit at Haarlem District Court.

In June 2022, as Schiphol struggled with labour shortages, the Dutch government said it would lower the cap on annual flights at the airport to 440,000 from the current 500,000 in order to combat noise pollution and help meet climate goals.

The government has recently indicated it may adopt an annual cap of 460,000 from November as an intermediate step.

But the airlines joining the suit, which also include Delta, EasyJet, TUI and Corendon, called the decision “unilateral and sudden”.

“The airlines maintain that, along with violating national, European and international legislation, the decision is unnecessary, damaging and lacks proper substantiation, given the airline industry is already achieving significant results in relation to reducing CO2 emissions and lowering noise levels,” they said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Infrastructure, responsible for the decision to cap flights said the ministry was considering its response.

Separately, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a statement it supports the airlines’ suit and it plans a parallel challenge on the grounds that the move violates both EU law and the Chicago Convention on noise-related operating restrictions.

“The dangerous precedent that this illegal approach creates left no choice but to challenge (the government) in court,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said in a statement.

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