Key Points:

  • The Dutch government's proposal to limit flights at Amsterdam Schiphol to address noise pollution could spur retaliatory actions by the U.S. government.

  • Following a formal complaint by JetBlue alleging a breach of the Open Skies agreement, the U.S. Department of Transportation is examining the Dutch proposal.

  • While KLM contests its government's decision and has joined legal challenges against it, the airline now also fears repercussions from U.S. authorities.

KLM expresses concerns over potential U.S. retaliatory measures.

AMSTERDAM — KLM, the Netherlands' primary airline, voices apprehensions that the U.S. might enact "retaliatory countermeasures" against it. This stems from a contentious decision by the Dutch caretaker government to curtail the number of flights at Amsterdam Schiphol, the hub for KLM. To combat noise pollution, there's a proposed legislation to reduce the annual flight cap from half a million to a mere 452,000 flights by the upcoming winter.

JetBlue Raises Alarm; U.S. DOT Steps In

JetBlue's formal grievance, which suggests that the Netherlands may be contravening the Open Skies agreement, has captured the attention of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). The bilateral treaty ensures unrestricted and equitable airline access for both nations. JetBlue’s apprehension revolves around possibly forfeiting its coveted Amsterdam slots due to the decrease in capacity. The airline urges the DOT to counter by imposing analogous flight restrictions on Dutch airlines heading to the U.S.

KLM's Stance Amidst Tensions

Reacting to the concerns raised by JetBlue, KLM underscores the potential severe implications of these capacity reductions on its operations. Additionally, it fears the ripple effects of retaliatory steps by countries, especially the U.S. KLM iterated that it’s not the right juncture for the DOT to hastily impose such counteractions. The airline emphasized its proactive stance against the Dutch government's decision, pointing out its joint legal challenge with JetBlue against these measures. Although an initial legal triumph for KLM met with a reversal at the appeals level, they remain steadfast, taking their case to the Dutch Supreme Court.

The 'Balanced Approach' and Industry Responses

Central to KLM's argument is the 'Balanced Approach' principle, which emphasizes considering flight reductions only after all alternative noise pollution mitigations have been exhausted. The airline sector suggests that noise and emission reductions around Schiphol are attainable through investments in eco-friendlier aircraft, intelligent flight strategies, and land repurposing near the airport. KLM's recent statement emphasized the inequity of imposing harsh countermeasures on them due to the Dutch government’s actions. Major industry stakeholders, including American Airlines, have echoed concerns over the flight restrictions. While American Airlines and the Airlines for America trade group have urged the U.S. DOT to liaise with Dutch authorities and the European Commission, they've stopped short of demanding retaliation.