Amsterdam no longer wants travelers to connect through its main airport

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How the change in the Netherlands could affect your trip to Europe

The Netherlands is on the verge of transforming its air transport sector following the announcement that Schiphol airport will operate under a cap from 2023. The decision is multi-faceted, attempting to fight both against climate change and the changing reputation of the airport as a transfer hub.

plane landing at schiphol

Schiphol Airport, the busiest airport in the Netherlands and one of the busiest in the world, announced last month that it would start capping the number of flights to and from the hub. The published figure suggested that no more than 440,000 flights a year would be allowed from Schiphol.

The move is primarily focused on climate change, and the figure corresponds to a decrease of around twenty percent from the airport’s pre-pandemic figures and is a first for all major airports in the world. The decision was welcomed by environmental activists but frustrated by several airlines and other airports who will now feel compelled to respond in the same way.

schiphol entrance

In a direct way, passengers may be affected by a sudden increase in costs as supply dwindles, but the decision is also part of a wider shift in focus by the Dutch government.

Schiphol is known for its calculated role as a connecting hub airport. Millions of passengers pass through the airport every year, attracted by relatively low costs and high connectivity. Recent figures place it as one of the most connected airports in the world.

klm planes

Many travelers deliberately re-route their journey via Schiphol instead of taking direct flights from their home airport or going through other major airports which are often more expensive. The UK, in particular, uses the Dutch hub as a cheap alternative to Heathrow, due to its 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.

lines outside schiphol

KLM, the largest airline with a presence at Schiphol, says that position is now untenable given the caps.

It appears that this move is a government-wide plan, as officials in the country have already raised the flight tax for the Netherlands. Schiphol has taken similar action and raised taxes for the airlines themselves, putting more pressure on airlines to avoid cheap routes and maximize the type of flight they offer. A deputy said of the taxes: “Thanks to these measures, you know that Schiphol will no longer be a cheap island.

inside shciphol airport

It’s hard to say how quickly the changes are likely to be seen, but regular travelers who often use Schiphol should anticipate a change in its connectivity, especially for cheaper short-haul flights around Western Europe or for longer connecting flights via the airport.

The airport is also currently operating under a separate and unrelated cap due to the travel chaos seen across the globe. Again, Schiphol’s reputation as a hub made the problems more acute, with massive lines, long delays and baggage problems forcing the airport’s hand. American Airlines has even taken the decision to cease operations at Schiphol Airport until the problems subside.

baggage chaos

He joins Heathrow, Gatwick and Frankfurt in capping summer flights in a bid to ease pressure on handling staff as they try to fill vacancies during the pandemic. The cap introduced in 2023 will be higher.

Although Schiphol is the first major airport to change its policies so drastically for environmental reasons, changes are being seen in the industry. In 2021, France took the bold step of banning short-haul flights if a bus or train was available as an alternative.

schiphol lounge

Under the rule, any flight where someone could catch a bus or train to get to their destination in two and a half hours or less was no longer allowed. Other countries are considering similar rules, but will most likely wait until the industry has settled back into a more typical routine.

Routes between 3,000 km and 5,000 km are generally considered the best for the environment.

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