If the Dutch government fails to include stricter environmental targets in its EUR3.4 billion euro (USD4 billion) bailout of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol), Greenpeace will mount a legal challenge to the aid package, the group said in a statement on September 14.

Greenpeace said it had laid out its grievances in a letter to Wopke Hoekstra, the Netherlands’ finance minister, and demanded a response by October 1.

After months of talks, the government agreed on June 26 to offer Air France-KLM’s Dutch wing loans and guarantees designed to see it through the current crisis. The terms include new environmental and noise pollution targets as well as cost cuts. But Greenpeace argues that the environmental conditions do not go far enough.

“Greenpeace Netherlands is going to court to force the Dutch government to discontinue its bailout for KLM because the climate conditions are lacking. As a first step, Greenpeace formally informed the government today,” Greenpeace said.

A lawsuit could potentially have “important consequences” for other airline bailouts, the group suggested.

“We want a green and just recovery from this crisis,” argued Dewi Zloch of Greenpeace. “The ongoing bailout [...] is at odds with this. This is unacceptable for everyone who works hard towards the transition to a sustainable future.”

The statement alleged that “KLM does not have a serious climate plan now. This major polluter wants to reduce its carbon dioxide footprint by 15% by 2030, while almost all other Dutch sectors must bring their emissions down by 49%.”

“The number of flights must be reduced substantially, starting with scrapping short-haul flights under 1,000 kilometres,” the group said, adding that it was unnecessary to fly multiple aircraft between Amsterdam Schiphol and Brussels or Paris every day. According to the ch-aviation capacities module, KLM currently operates 20x weekly to Brussels National and 15x weekly to Paris CDG, although frequencies were higher before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Greenpeace also demanded a plan for annual emissions cuts up to the point where the airline reaches zero net emissions.

Greenpeace has already protested against the KLM bailout. In May, protesters cycled onto a Schiphol runway between parked aircraft and unfurled a banner in Dutch saying “Back to normal = back to climate crisis.”