Lelystad Airport: Developing an airport in the Flevopolder

Air traffic at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has increased markedly in recent years. We agreed to a ceiling of 500,000 air transport movements until 2020, but that limit has already been reached. Now there is an urgent need for alternatives to accommodate holiday air traffic that doesn’t have to fly to and from Schiphol. The development of the regional airport at Lelystad into an international airport is currently the subject of animated discussion.

Holiday traffic

An agreement called the Alders Agreement was reached about the development of Lelystad Airport in October 2008. It included an agreement to distribute air traffic, which means that Schiphol must not host more than 500,000 air transport movements before the end of 2020. 70,000 flight services known as ‘holiday flights’ must be moved to Lelystad Airport and Eindhoven Airport because they do not necessarily have to leave from a mainport.

For Eindhoven, this meant an expansion in the number of flight services. However, Lelystad needed a complete transformation from a regional airfield into an international airport. Opening Lelystad Airport to holiday flight services was intended to create room at Schiphol for new destinations, as well as better connections with the rest of the world.

Ready to open

Extensive consultation with all those involved, including local residents, municipalities and the aviation sector. After that, the plans for Lelystad Airport were agreed and the Lelystad Airport Decree was finalised in 2015. That meant we could get started on developing the airport. Since then, the runways have been extended and widened and the air traffic control tower is now taller. The terminal is also ready to receive its first travellers. All the activities were geared towards an opening date of 1 April 2018 for Lelystad Airport. Unfortunately, the opening was delayed by a year at the end of 2016 due to the redistribution of the air space.

Flight paths

Lelystad Airport found itself in difficulties early in 2018. That was a result of the expected flight paths and calculation errors in the environmental impact assessment (MER) that had been carried out in 2014. The MER included the redistribution of the relevant air space, but had not been completed by the intended opening date.

That means that the aircraft will temporarily fly lower than had been calculated beforehand, which may impact the local community. The MER has now been recalculated and approved – however, the minister decided to delay the opening even further due to dissatisfaction resulting from the temporary flight paths compounded with the additional pressure on the redistribution of the air space. It is not yet clear when in 2020 the airport will open.