Slot constraints at Amsterdam Schiphol may force KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) to reduce its European route network by 17 daily flights for the 2024 summer season, a problem for the Dutch flag carrier that relies heavily on feeder flights to support its long-haul operations, says Chief Executive Officer Marjan Rintel.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Rintel also expressed concern about possible retaliatory measures against KLM if the Dutch government goes ahead with its plan to cut capacity at Schiphol from 500,000 to 440,000 flights annually. KLM, along with international and European airline representative bodies, is contesting the capacity cuts on competitive grounds. It proposes newer aircraft and smarter flight procedures and schedules, which would mean retaining its network while reducing environmental pollution.

The Dutch Cabinet is to make a final decision on the plan - dubbed a temporary experimental scheme - once it has received feedback from the European Commission on whether it aligns with EU requirements for a balanced approach to noise and carbon emission mitigation. Despite strong opposition from the international airline industry, legal attempts to thwart the plan have been unsuccessful.

Responding to JetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK) seeking retaliatory measures against KLM from the US government, Rintel said such demands by other airlines were a significant threat to KLM's international operation and partnerships. "JetBlue will not be the only one," she said. "There will be more to follow. If you reduce slots like this, without any comprehension of international agreements, then JetBlue is very offended with it and rightfully so."

Meanwhile, KLM, easyJet and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have petitioned the Dutch Administrative High Court for Trade and Industry (College van Beroep voor het bedrijfsleven - CBb) in The Hague against a 37% airport user fee increase by Schiphol, reports De Telegraaf newspaper. The parties already complained about this to the Dutch consumer authority (Autoriteit Consument & Markt - ACM) two years ago, but the regulator rejected the complaints.

In another development, global asset manager Apollo Global Management has agreed to invest EUR1.3 billion (USD1.37 billion) - with a potential upsize to EUR1.5 billion (USD1.58 billion) - in an Air France-KLM operating affiliate that holds the trademark and commercial partner contracts for the Flying Blue loyalty programme. In return, Air France-KLM commits to spending EUR100 million (USD105 million) on sustainable aviation fuel over the next four years. A KLM spokeswoman confirmed that KLM stands to receive EUR400 million (USD424 million) from the transaction.

The financing aims to bolster Air France-KLM's balance sheet and expand the growth potential of the frequent flyer programme, the parties said in separate statements. This marks the third financial transaction between Apollo and Air France-KLM in the past 18 months.