How The Netherlands Shift Might Affect Your Travel Around Europe
The Netherlands is set to transform its air travel sector in the wake of the announcement that Schiphol Airport will be operating under a cap from 2023. The decision is multi-faceted, attempting to tackle both climate change and a shift from the airport’s reputation as a transfer hub.
Schiphol Airport, the Netherlands’ busiest airport and one of the busiest in the world, announced last month that it would begin capping the number of flights flying to and from the hub. The figure released suggested that no more than 440 thousand flights a year would be allowed to leave from Schiphol.
The move is mainly geared at climate change, and the figure corresponds to an approximate twenty percent decrease in the airport’s pre-pandemic figures and is a first for any major airport in the world. The decision was met with celebration from environmental activists but frustration by several airlines and other airports who will now feel pressure to react in a similar manner.
In a direct manner, passengers may be affected by sudden rising costs as the supply decreases, but the decision is also part of a broader change in direction from the Dutch Government.
Schiphol is known for its calculated role as a connection hub airport. Millions of passengers move through the airport every year, attracted by comparatively low costs and high connectivity. Recent figures place it as one of the most connected airports in the world.
Many travelers purposely reroute their travel through Schiphol instead of taking direct flights from their home airports or routing through other major airports that are often more expensive. The UK, in particular, uses the Dutch hub as a cheap alternative to Heathrow, owing to its close proximity to the country. A tourist traveling from a city like Newcastle in the north of England would see far more value in a cheap flight across the channel than dealing with Heathrow.
KLM, the largest airline presence at Schiphol, says this position is now untenable in light of the caps.
It appears the move was a government-wide plan, as country officials have already raised the flight tax for the Netherlands. Schiphol took similar measures and increased taxes for the airlines themselves, putting more pressure on airlines to avoid cheap routes and maximize the type of flight they offer. One member of parliament said of the taxes, “Through these measures, you know that Schiphol will no longer be a cheap island.”
How quickly changes are likely to be seen is hard to tell, but regular travelers who often utilize Schiphol should anticipate a shift in its connectivity, especially for cheaper short-distance flights around Western Europe or for longer-haul flights connecting through the airport.
The airport is also currently operating under a separate, unrelated cap owing to the travel chaos seen across the world. Again, Schiphol’s hub reputation has made the problems more acute, with massive lines, significant delays, and baggage problems forcing the airport’s hand. American Airlines even made the decision to stop operating in Schiphol Airport until the problems lessen.
It joins Heathrow, Gatwick, and Frankfurt in capping summer flights in an attempt to alleviate the pressure on handling staff while they attempt to fill positions vacated during the pandemic. The cap being brought in 2023 will be a larger one.
Although Schiphol is the first major airport to change its policies so drastically for environmental reasons, 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 someone could get a bus or train to the destination in two and a half hours or under was no longer allowed. Other countries are mulling similar rules but will most likely wait until the industry has settled into a more typical routine once again.
Routes between 3000km and 5000km are generally viewed as the best for the environment.
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