KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) said it was “pleased” Amsterdam Schiphol Airport had announced that 483,000 aircraft movements would be possible during 2024, although the airport cautioned that this can be done “on the condition that peak times are relieved.”

The Dutch flag carrier said in response to the December 21 announcement that it would now be able “to continue its recovery after the extremely difficult period during the pandemic.”

It added: “Stable, predictable operations are vital for customers and employees, who understandably expect this from us. We now have scarcely three months to make the necessary arrangements instead of the usual six. KLM will obviously do everything possible to operate the number of flights it has been allocated.”

In its statement on the “conditional relief of peak pressure” in 2024, Schiphol explained that the airport is now planning to provide capacity for 293,000 flights in the summer season (March 31 to October 26), on the condition that peak times are relieved.

It said it had informed airlines, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure, and the slot coordinator of its decision, which “is the outcome of five weeks in which Schiphol had to reestablish the capacity for the summer season” after the minister revealed on November 14 that he was suspending an “experimental scheme” to cut flight movements.

The government said last month that the first phase of a proposed cut in flight movements at the Amsterdam hub would not proceed on March 31, 2024, but that it would continue to insist on a reduction beyond the second phase. When the Dutch government’s unilateral decision to cap flights was unveiled in March, a number of airlines - including KLM - and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced legal action.

The airport has now concluded, after consultation with Dutch air traffic control and border guards and customs, that “a limited reduction is needed at peak times to allow for safe and stable operations. Airlines have agreed to help with this.”

The 293,000 flights for next summer season are more than the 280,000 Schiphol had previously announced. That number, it said, had been derived from the annual total of 460,000 as was determined in the experimental scheme. By comparison, in 2023 it expects a total of around 433,000 flights.

“At the request of the minister, we reviewed what was operationally possible after the experimental scheme was taken off the table,” said Patricia Vitalis, the airport’s executive director of operations. “More flights are now possible, but this is only safe and responsible provided we reduce pressure on certain peak hours. The busy peak times require a major effort from the entire aviation sector and the involved government partners. [...] It’s good to see that airlines have committed to helping reduce peak traffic.”

The independent slot coordinator will now talk with airlines about how flight numbers during peak hours can be reduced, she said, adding: “Compliance with these agreements is crucial in the interest of a safe and pleasant journey for everyone at Schiphol.”