Universiteit Leiden

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Reduction in flights at Schiphol no done deal

The recent ruling by the Amsterdam Court that Schiphol must reduce the number of flights from 500,000 to 460,000 is now ‘up in the air’ following the collapse of the Dutch government. How and when the reduction in flights is likely to take effect is now totally unclear.

A reduction on the basis of proportionality

‘The reduction is no done deal, certainly not in the mid to long term’, says Pablo Mendes de Leon, professor emeritus air and space law in Leiden. According to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the reduction will be done on the basis of proportionality. An air carrier must observe the rules of the air treaty of its country. In case of refusal, the ministry will mediate. Those familiar with the matter expect European courts to be busy, alongside punitive measures from other countries towards the Netherlands, including KLM.

EU law applies

According to Mendes de Leon, 'the extent of the noise problem must first be investigated. Measures other than the toughest should be applied first.' From the beginning of the controversial plan, however, Minister Harbers, has talked of a figure of 440,000 takeoffs and landings. ‘That’s not really allowed. Experimenting with the number of flights can only be done on the basis of EU law. That has been the applicable law in the Netherlands since 13 June 2016, there’s no getting around that. The judges at the Amsterdam Court are taking a policy approach here by weighing up societal interests. But that balancing should be done within the framework of EU law, not that of the judges themselves.’

Read the full article in Dutch newspaper Telegraaf  (€) 

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