The Dutch Minister for Nature and Nitrogen Policy has grated Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport a nature permit, allowing it to operate 440,000 to a maximum of 500,000 flights per year. Schiphol requested the permit on 1 October 2020 and that request has been added to several times since then.
The new permit means the airport is complying again with current laws and regulations in the Netherlands and meets the requirements of the Nature Conservation Act, thus, after a long court battle between the government, on one side, and the airport and airlines on the other, Schiphol can keep operating its 500,000 yearly flights for the time being.
The permit enables the government to introduce new policies for Schiphol, such as an Airport Traffic Decree containing a new approach with hard environmental and noise limits for the aviation industry.Schiphol Airport
The airport revealed in a statement it hopes that the government will now look at a different approach to the environmental issues they have been fighting over, with a system put in place by 2026 at the latest. “We therefore call on the government to come up with a legally anchored system in which the means (the number of flight movements) is no longer the guiding principle, but rather the goal (structurally less nuisance and emissions, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement). This is how we can achieve a better balance between our activities and the needs of the local environment and our employees, as well as contribute to global climate goals”, Schiphol said.
The Dutch government announced in July 2022 plans of cutting Schiphol Airport’s operations by around 20% in an effort to reduce noise pollution. A maximum limit of 460,000 flights at Amsterdam’s Airport was to be introduced in November 2023 and of 440,000 by the end of 2024.
The measure has gone back and forth, the International Air Tavel Association (IATA) challenging the legality of the measure for breaking EU law and bilateral air services agreements connected with the Balanced Approach to noise. A first court ruled against the “Experimental Regulation”, while the Court of Appeal concluded that, since the measure was experimental, it was not subject to EU regulation, thus ruled in favour of the government.
Along the process, the International Air Tavel Association (IATA), together with Airlines for America (A4A), European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and European Regions Airline Association (ERA), warned that, had the current caretaker government of the country pushed the regulation through, it could have resulted “in retaliatory international action and further legal challenges, including from governments defending their rights under international agreements and bilateral treaties”.