JetBlue’s Amsterdam flights get a reprieve; Dutch government scraps caps after US pressure

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) has decided to abandon its controversial plan to reduce flight capacity in an effort to tackle traffic congestion and pollution. The decision comes after facing intense pressure from the United States, as well as concerns from the Canadian government and the European Union.

Infrastructure Minister Mark Harbers wrote a letter to the Dutch Parliament stating that the implementation of flight caps has been put on hold due to criticism from the US. In the letter, Harbers mentioned that the US views the capacity reduction as unjust, discriminatory, and anti-competitive for airlines.

Schiphol expressed disappointment with the recent developments and believed that not reducing flight capacity would have negative consequences for local residents. The original plan aimed to reduce Schiphol’s capacity from 500,000 flights per year to around 460,000 for the summer travel season. This would have resulted in airlines without historic rights at the airport losing their slots for summer 2024, while those with historic rights would receive 3.1% fewer slots.

One of the airlines affected by the proposed flight caps was JetBlue, which had recently started flying to Schiphol in August. JetBlue filed a complaint with the US Department of Transportation, requesting the removal of Dutch carrier KLM from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in response to the proposed flight caps. However, with the Dutch government reversing its stance on the flight caps, JetBlue expressed satisfaction with the decision and stated its commitment to advocating for a long-term resolution that allows for new entrants and competition in the market.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing major US airlines, also filed a complaint against the flight caps with the Department of Transportation. The DOT approved the complaints from JetBlue and Airlines for America, expressing concern over the Dutch government’s methodology to reduce flight capacity. The DOT also required Dutch carriers KLM, Martinair, and TUI Fly Netherlands to submit their schedules within seven days, indicating the possibility of countermeasures against the Dutch carriers.

The Dutch government’s reversal came after the DOT announced its intention to engage with the Dutch government and the European Commission on the proposed flight caps. KLM expressed satisfaction with the decision, stating that it reduces the chances of retaliation and allows for continued flights to the US.

The plan to reduce flights from Schiphol, one of Europe’s busiest airports, faced opposition from airlines. KLM, Delta Air Lines, Corendon Airlines, and Tui Airways filed a lawsuit to block the proposed cuts. Although a Dutch court initially ruled in favor of the airlines, an appeals court later overturned the ruling, allowing the Dutch government to move forward with implementing the flight caps.

However, the pressure from the US and the European Commission prompted the Dutch government to reconsider its plan. Harbers believed that the flight caps would isolate the Netherlands, leading to the decision to abandon the controversial proposal.

In conclusion, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has decided not to reduce flight capacity after facing criticism and pressure from the US, Canadian government, and the European Union. The decision is seen as a step to prevent retaliation and maintain a balanced approach in the aviation industry. JetBlue and Airlines for America have welcomed the Dutch government’s reversal and will continue to advocate for fair competition and opportunities for new entrants in the market.

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