Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has made public a number of decisions that it says will lead to quieter, cleaner and better aviation.

Schiphol wants a system that focuses on the structural reduction of noise and CO2 emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement, and not on the number of air transport movements, no later than 2025-2026. This system will provide certainty that noise and emissions will be structurally reduced, and it will also stimulate innovation in the aviation sector. The government should enshrine this system in law, the airport’s owner. Royal Schiphol Group said.   


Tackling nuisance and emissions
Schiphol wants night-time closure for a quieter environment. Aircraft will no longer take off between 00:00 and 06:00, and there will be no more landings between 00:00 and 05:00. This means 10,000 fewer night flights each year. The hub also intends to limit the reallocation of flights to the very start or very end of the night/early morning as much as possible.  

To reduce noise nuisance, Schiphol wants to take a stricter approach regarding noisier aircraft by gradually tightening existing standards for aircraft that are allowed to take off from and land at Schiphol.  

Furthermore, Schiphol wants a ban on private jets and small business aviation, which causes a disproportionate amount of noise nuisance and CO2 emissions per passenger (around 20 times more CO2 than a commercial flight). About 30% to 50% of these private jet flights are to holiday destinations like Ibiza, Cannes and Innsbruck. Sufficient scheduled services are available to the most popular destinations flown to by private jets. Capacity for social traffic such as police and ambulance flights will remain unchanged.  

These three measures will apply no later than 2025-2026. According to current models, the number of people around Schiphol experiencing severe nuisance will fall by approximately 17,500 (16%) and the number of local residents experiencing severe sleep disturbance will fall by approximately 13,000 (54%).  


No additional runway
Schiphol is abandoning plans for an additional runway – the parallel Kaagbaan Runway – and is asking the government to revoke the reservation. Land for this runway has been reserved at Rozenburg, Rijsenhout and Schiphol-Rijk. This reservation puts unnecessary pressure on the already scare space in the area. For the area to the south-east of Schiphol, which may have benefitted from the construction of an additional runway when it comes to noise nuisance, efforts are underway to implement the Minder Hinder (Less Nuisance) programme.  

Together with the central government, Schiphol is setting up an environmental fund for the local area. Between now and 2030, Schiphol will be making a total of €70m (€10m per year) available so that investments can be made in innovative construction concepts, home insulation and area development for an improved living environment.  


Safeguarding cargo
Schiphol wants to safeguard cargo by keeping 2.5% of the available take-off and landing slots available for cargo. Due to international slot regulations, cargo flights are currently struggling to keep their slots at Schiphol. Cargo provides relatively high employment opportunities and is valuable for the economy and business climate. However, cargo flights will have to adhere to new, tighter rules for noisier aircraft and the new night closure will also apply to cargo.  


People first
Quieter, cleaner and better is not only about CO2, but also about people. For many, working at Schiphol is a unique experience but one that is labour intensive. The focus has been on low costs for too long and a new approach is needed: everyone at Schiphol matters. The social agreement reached with the unions was a first step. Schiphol is following through with that and considers it important that there are good terms and conditions of employment for everyone working at the airport. Schiphol is committed to better pay in all sectors, better protection of employees against emissions, less competition in the handling sector and an improvement in working conditions for all (baggage) handing employees.  

“Schiphol connects the Netherlands with the rest of the world. We want to keep doing that, but we must do it better. The only way forward is to become quieter and cleaner more rapidly. We have thought about growth but too little about its impact for too long. We need to be sustainable for our employees, the local environment and the world.

“I realise that our choices may have significant implications for the aviation industry, but they are necessary. This shows we mean business. It is the only way, based on concrete measures, to regain the trust of employees, passengers, neighbours, politics and society,” said Ruud Sondag, CEO, Royal Schiphol Group.


KLM's response
Dutch carrier KLM responded to Schiphol's announcement by filing 
preliminary relief proceedings. A Dutch court subsequently ruled that the use of the experimental rule is not intended to reduce the number of aircraft movements at Schiphol, and is not in accordance to European law. This means that the number of aircraft movements cannot be reduced to 460,000 by the start of the winter schedule, KLM noted. The carrier added: "With our measures we see a better alternative for achieving less noise and CO2 while meeting travellers' need to fly".

Image: Royal Schiphol Group