Key Points:

  • The U.S. Department of Transportation has endorsed complaints by JetBlue and industry group A4A against the Netherlands and the EU regarding landing slots at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport.

  • JetBlue has been denied landing slots at Schiphol for the summer of 2024, prompting a request for U.S. government intervention.

  • The Dutch government's plan to reduce flights at Schiphol for environmental reasons has led to a broader industry backlash and potential U.S. countermeasures.

U.S. Endorses Carrier Complaints in International Airport Slot Dispute

WASHINGTON D.C. — JetBlue Airways and the airline industry group Airlines for America (A4A) have received backing from the U.S. government in their dispute over landing slots at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. The U.S. Department of Transportation has confirmed its approval of two complaints filed by the parties against the Netherlands and the European Union.

JetBlue Denied Vital Landing Slots Amid Dutch Environmental Policy

JetBlue revealed in a recent statement that it has been precluded from obtaining landing slots at Schiphol for the summer of 2024. The decision by Schiphol's slot coordinator aligns with the Dutch government's directive to curtail slots, a move opposed by JetBlue. Consequently, JetBlue has urged the U.S. government to implement countermeasures in response to this exclusion.

Intensifying Industry Backlash and the Path Forward

The Dutch government's intention to reduce flights at Schiphol to 452,500 annually, a reduction of nearly 10% from 2019 levels, aims to mitigate noise and other forms of pollution. However, it has sparked resistance from industry players, including Dutch flag carrier KLM, part of Air France-KLM, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA). A4A has projected that U.S. airlines will forfeit 339 landing slots due to the Dutch plan, prompting a call for a delay in granting a U.S. air carrier permit to German company USC GmbH until the dispute reaches a resolution.

In a letter dated November 2, Assistant Secretary Carol Petsonk articulated the Department of Transportation's stance, labeling the capacity reduction at Schiphol as "unjustifiable and unreasonable activities" in breach of the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement. A meeting involving the U.S., the Netherlands, and the European Commission is scheduled for November 13 to deliberate on the issue. In the interim, Dutch airlines have been instructed to submit their U.S. flight schedules in anticipation of possible U.S. countermeasures.

A spokesperson for the Dutch Transport Ministry acknowledged on Friday that communications from the U.S. concerning the dispute have been received and that the Dutch government is formulating its response.