Amsterdam’s battle to reduce aviation emissions

The Dutch government has been seeking to cap the country’s annual flight volumes in pursuit of its climate goals. The aviation industry has not taken the new policies lying down.


A legal face off between the Dutch government and airline industry was resolved today (Apr. 5) with the Noord-Holland court ruling against the state’s plans to place a lower cap on flight volume at Schiphol airport.

Last month, the Dutch government announced a plan called “Preliminary Scheme Schiphol.” It proposed to cut the airport’s annual number of flights from 500,000, where they are currently capped, to 460,000 beginning in November 2023. The state’s final goal is to reach a 440,000 flight cap in 2024.


A group of airlines including KLM, Delta and easJet sued the government over the flight cap, arguing it violated European and international law, and would have a negative impact on customers and the economy.

Today’s ruling found that the Dutch government did not follow the correct procedure in implementing the 460,000 flight cap: “According to European rules, the State can only reduce the number of air transport movements at an airport after going through a careful process.”


The Dutch government’s plans to cut carbon emissions through restrictions on international flights has caused broader concern in the airline industry. In March, KLM, the country’s flagship carrier, told CNN: “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.”

Nevertheless, the Dutch government has started the EU process to approve its 440,000 flight cap. If it is successful, the contraction will be legally valid, according to the Dutch court.


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