Schiphol flights to be limited to 11% below 2019 levels to cut noise, emissions

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An airplane takes off from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw

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AMSTERDAM, June 24 (Reuters) - Flights from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport will be limited to 440,000 a year, 11% less than in 2019, to cut noise pollution, the Dutch government said on Friday, drawing praise from green groups but dismay from airlines bosses.

The decision follows a move by Schiphol itself, in which the Dutch state is the majority shareholder, to impose a cap on the number passengers it can carry this summer - although that was due to staffing shortages. read more

The government also pointed to the airport's impact on "nature and climate" for the cuts, following criticism from environmental campaigners and the left-wing opposition for its greenhouse gas and nitrogen oxide emissions.

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The move is intended to restore "the balance between a well-operating international airport, the business climate, and the interests of a better and healthier living environment", Transportation Minister Mark Harbers said in a statement announcing the decision.

"This is a difficult message for the aviation sector that is still recovering from the far-reaching consequences of the coronavirus pandemic," he said.

KLM, the Dutch arm of Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA), said the move, due to come into effect from the start of next year, would be "highly detrimental" and it would harm the country's reputation as a reliable place to do business.

"It does not tally with the desire to retain a strong hub function" for Schiphol, and it would "fail to improve our quality of life and climate", KLM said.

IATA General Director Willie Walsh called the decision "a shocking blow".

"It comes on top of a tripling of the passenger tax, and a 37% rise in airport charges," he said.

Greenpeace, which had lobbied for traffic at Schiphol to be reduced, hailed the decision as a "historic breakthrough".

"It's good that the cabinet now realises that Schiphol has been flying past all limits for years", spokesperson Dewi Zloch said.

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Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Alison Williams

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