KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Transavia Airlines have criticised the Dutch government's updated noise reduction measures for Amsterdam Schiphol, which propose capping night flights further to 27,000, a blanket night ban on large aircraft, daytime rest periods for two runways, and potential partial night-time closures by November 2026.

On May 24, Infrastructure and Water Management Minister Mark Harbers announced the government was supplementing and adapting a proposed package of measures from June 2022 to reduce noise pollution around the airport. This was in response to a court ruling in The Hague on March 20 that more attention must be paid to the interests of local residents. Lobby group Stichting Recht op Bescherming tegen Vliegtuighinder, advocating the right to protection against noise from air traffic, had taken the Dutch government to court, charging it was acting in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights by not sufficiently protecting residents against noise pollution from Schiphol.

According to a government statement, the adjusted package being considered by the cabinet proposes that:

  • from November 2024, KLM will replace noisy aircraft at night with quieter ones;
  • starting in 2025, the maximum number of flight movements at night (currently 32,000) will be cut further to 27,000;
  • Schiphol will close two runways that have received a lot of additional air traffic in recent years between 1300L and 1500L (1100-1300Z);
  • Schiphol will make the use of noisy aircraft more expensive;
  • the noisiest aircraft, such as the B747-400, will be banned from flying between 2300L and 0700L (2100-0500Z); and
  • airlines must replace some of their fleets with less noisy aircraft.

The cabinet is also considering a partial night closure by November 2026, pending the outcome of an impact assessment expected this summer. Harbers said that if the night-time closure proves impossible, additional measures will be taken instead.

In response, Transavia expressed disappointment that the number of night flights was being reduced even further, warning that this would significantly impact its business.

"Transavia is surprised, because no substantive consultation took place prior to these new adjustments," it said in a statement. "In addition, a cabinet formation is currently taking place that could possibly lead to a different approach to aviation policy." It questioned the proposal of a night closure as its impact was still being investigated. "One effect is clear: irreversible damage to Transavia's business model and the sector".

KLM said it was carefully studying the proposed new package but noted it included various elements of its own noise reduction plan, including proposals for tariff differentiation, higher airport fees for noisy aircraft, and fleet renewal with quieter aircraft.

"Unfortunately, the package also includes measures that are harmful and not proportionate. This includes a proposed blanket ban on certain aircraft types from 2025 without giving our industry time to seek suitable alternatives. This would have major consequences for our cargo operation, where we ordered new, quieter aircraft two years ago, which are only expected to be delivered in 2026," KLM warned.

"This means there's a focus on shrinkage instead of seeking a balanced approach to reducing noise impact. This ignores potential consequences such as countermeasures for Dutch airlines abroad, legal feasibility, and damage to the Netherlands as a trading nation," it added.

The airline underlined it was crucial to adopt a balanced approach aligned with European Union guidelines and prioritise solutions benefiting Schiphol's communities while recognising the significance of air transport for the Netherlands. European regulations emphasise noise reduction over shrinkage. KLM said it supported implementing the industry-wide "cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient" plan to meet noise reduction targets without harming the aviation industry or local economy.