More in balance with the living environment: For a quieter, cleaner and better Schiphol

Schiphol has been connecting the Netherlands with the rest of the world for more than 100 years. It's something we do with pride. At the same time, we realise that our activities have an impact on the environment and the local area. And we are aware that the drawbacks involved should play a greater role in the choices we make.

We want to keep on connecting the Netherlands in the future, but we must do it better.
That's why we are going for a quieter, cleaner and better Schiphol. An airport and an aviation industry in better equilibrium with the world around it. It's time to give the local environment, our employees and the aviation industry perspective.

We're already working hard to achieve that, but it's time to shift up a gear. That's why we are taking action and leading the way to initiate change. We are moving forward with the following eight steps.

1: New rules with clear limits for noise and CO2 emissions

We want to transition as quickly as possible, by 2025-2026 at the latest, to a new system with clear agreements on noise and CO2 emissions. We are calling on the government to come up with a legally enshrined system in which the means (the number of air transport movements) is no longer leading, but rather the end (less nuisance and emissions, in line with the Paris Agreement). Because by flying in cleaner and quieter aircraft, and with sustainably produced fuels, we achieve what we really want: lower impact aviation. In this way, we better balance our operations with the needs of the environment and our employees, and we contribute to global climate goals.

Eindhoven Airport is also doing their bit

Eindhoven Airport is also contributing to the goal of reducing CO2 emissions from air traffic. The airport has set the goal of reducing these emissions by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2019. They will do this through fleet renewal, operational measures (including a review of European airspace) and by blending aviation fuel (kerosene) with Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

Higher fuel blending obligation
The more SAF is blended, the less CO2 air traffic emits. Eindhoven Airport is therefore preparing a higher blending obligation than is currently (legally) provided for (6 percent in 2030).

Eindhoven Airport also wants to encourage airlines to blend more than 20 percent of their kerosene purchased at the airport. They will therefore make an annual contribution towards the costs for airlines that blend more than 20 percent SAF. For 2024, this amount is €500,000.

RTHA accelerates blending of SAF

Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTHA) is taking the blending of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) a step further. The airport has set itself the goal of adding at least 8 percent more SAF to the European obligation of 6 percent by 2030. Great news, because the use of SAF as aviation fuel leads to significantly lower emissions of soot, ultrafine particles and CO2.

By committing itself to refuelling more SAF than is required from the European Union, RTHA wants to contribute to the Dutch aviation sector's intention to use at least 14 percent sustainable kerosene by 2030.

To this end, the airport has signed an agreement with Shell starting in 2024. Entering into a long-term cooperation will allow Shell to invest in the production of SAF while allowing airlines to gradually adapt to the new situation.

Accelerated CO₂ reduction necessary

The Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and research institute CE Delft were commissioned by Schiphol to investigate what is needed in order to bring Schiphol’s CO₂ emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. Research showed that at least a 30 percent CO₂ reduction (when compared to 2019) is needed for Schiphol and European aviation to be on track in 2030. That’s more than the current (national) goal of a 9 percent reduction.

Polluter pays
To achieve that, a strengthened national and international policy is needed. Given the strong international nature of aviation, it is essential that the polluter pays. The following measures are therefore required at a national and international level:

  • Convert the Dutch air passenger tax to a distance-based tax. 20 percent of flights (long haul) are responsible for 80 percent of emissions. This tax would be in line with existing distance-based taxation in Germany and the UK.
  • Additional tax for business class and private flights.
  • Divert flight tax proceeds back to help the Dutch aviation sector accelerate its move away from fossil fuels. This would also create a competitive advantage for the development of sustainable aviation initiatives in the country.
  • Expand the European emissions trading scheme to include intercontinental flights. This currently only applies to flights within Europe.
  • Introduce a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) in Europe to prevent carbon leakage and maintain an level playing field.
  • Commit to a worldwide kerosene tax and blending obligation through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Read the studies here:

Together with KLM and Barin, Schiphol commissioned SEO, CE Delft, Significance, and the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) to conduct a social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA) looking at the welfare effects of fewer flights on the one hand, and more far-reaching environmental measures on the other. Schiphol has incorporated the results of the study into proposals and measures, such as the 8-point plan, to reduce the impact of flying on the surrounding area and the environment, and to accelerate the reduction of CO2 emissions.
Download the full report (in Dutch)

2: The noisiest aircraft are no longer welcome

The quieter the better. After all, the noisiest aircraft cause above-average noise nuisance. That's why we want to prevent even more of the noisier types of planes from coming to Schiphol as of 2025/2026. By tightening the maximum permissible daytime and night-time noise limits and further encouraging the use of quieter aircraft, nuisance in the surrounding area will decrease.

Capacity declaration

We are pushing forward with our plan to keep out the noisiest aircraft. We are doing that with various other parties, including the Minister of Infrastructure & Water Management (I&W). He has taken the lead in adding an amendment to the law on the basis of a European regulation. As a result, Schiphol will later be able to deny airlines that wish to fly with these kinds of noisy planes entry to the airport.

No longer welcome
That is made possible by the capacity declaration. In the declaration for summer 2024, we listed 87 aircraft types that are no longer welcome. These types of planes were already no longer flying to and from Schiphol, but this ban means that there's a guarantee that they won't return.

Airport charges

Through airport charges we stimulate airlines to fly with the quietest aircraft. If they fly with the noisiest and most polluting types, they must pay five times more than for the quietest and cleanest ones.

3: No take-offs between 00:00 and 06:00, no landings between 00:00 and 05:00

We want to stop flying during a large portion of the night starting winter 2025/2026. By no longer allowing aircraft to depart between 00:00 and 06:00 and by no longer allowing flights to arrive between 00:00 and 05:00, there will be around 10,000 fewer night flights. We will limit the reallocation of flights to the very start or very end of the night/early morning as much as possible too. In this way, we help our environment get a better night's sleep.

Balanced Approach

The Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management wants the number of aircraft movements to and from Schiphol to decrease. In order to achieve that, the Dutch government must follow European regulations — the so-called Balanced Approach procedure.

Our stance
As an involved party, we submitted a statement in which, among other things, we once again emphasised our wish for a night curfew. We believe that, besides a ban on the noisiest aircraft and private jets, and our environmental fund, closing Schiphol for a large part of the night is an effective measure to reduce noise nuisance caused by air traffic.

On the agenda
We fully support the government's objective to reduce noise nuisance experienced by local residents. We had therefore expected to see our suggested measures in the package of proposed Balanced Approach measures. That is not the case. At the same time, we see that various political parties are taking the night curfew seriously as a point on their agendas and have included it in their election programmes. That's good news for the nightly rest of local residents.

4: No more private jets and small business aviation at Schiphol

We want to stop facilitating business air traffic and air taxis at Schiphol-East (General/Business Aviation) as of 2025/2026. Although these flights do not count towards the maximum number of permitted aircraft movements, they do cause a disproportionately large amount of noise nuisance and CO2 emissions per passenger compared to commercial flights. By only accepting social air traffic, such as police and ambulance helicopters and the coast guard, the nuisance and emissions from small aircraft are significantly reduced.

Suspension of experimental regulation

At the end of September 2023, we presented our capacity declaration for the 2024 summer season. It stated that, as of 31 March 2024, there would be less capacity for private aircraft at our airport. This had to do with the government's intention to introduce the experimental regulatory scheme on that date. That scheme sets a limit of 460,000 aircraft movements and a maximum of 12,000 for business aviation.

However, on 14 November 2023, the Minister of Infrastructure & Water Management announced that he had decided to suspend the experimental regulation. A disappointing development that sees local residents getting the short end of the stick. We believe it is time that they experience a noticeable reduction in noise nuisance. With the suspension of the experimental regulation, the measures in our 8-point plan, such as a ban on private jets, are more crucial than ever.

5: No additional runways

We are definitively abandoning plans for a parallel Kaagbaan Runway. Land for this has been reserved for more than 20 years but it puts unnecessary pressure on the already scarce space in the area. A study in 2019 showed that a second Kaagbaan would not lower noise nuisance but only transfer it to another location. Besides, an additional runway is unnecessary at the current and projected number of aircraft movements. We are asking the government to revoke the planning reservation, thus ensuring clarity for our environment.

Minister wants to lift reservation for second Kaagbaan

In June 2023, the Minister of Infrastructure & Water Management (I&W) wrote in a letter to the House of Representatives saying he wanted to lift the reservation for a second Kaagbaan runway.

An internet consultation was then held to give stakeholders an opportunity to respond to this proposal. Since no new arguments for maintaining the reservation came to the fore, the next step is to submit the decision to parliament. We expect the decision to be made definitive at the start of 2024.

6: Invest in local environment and residents

We realise that, despite all nuisance-reducing measures, aviation continues to have an impact on the local environment. Therefore we are setting up an environmental fund. Between now and 2030, Schiphol will be making up to a maximum of € 10 million a year available through this fund to be invested in innovative construction concepts, home insulation and area development. This way, we contribute to the improvement of the living environment.

7: Safeguarding cargo

We are committed to safeguarding the position of cargo at Schiphol and that's why we want to keep 2.5% of the available take-off and landing slots available for cargo starting 2025/2026. The cargo sector provides a lot of employment opportunities in the area and is valuable for the economy and business climate. We do expect cargo companies to comply with the new, stricter rules for noisy aircraft.

Developing scenarios with involved parties

Together with the involved parties, such as Air Cargo Nederland (ACN) and transporters organisation evofenedex, we are developing various scenarios that will help us to strengthen the position of cargo at Schiphol and contribute to an attractive business climate for companies in the Netherlands. We expect to be able to take concrete action in 2024.

8: People first

We want people to work with pride and dignity at our airport again. Whether they are employed by Schiphol or another employer. For too long we have focused on lowering costs and now we realise it's time for a new approach. Because everyone at Schiphol matters. There must be good terms and conditions of employment for everyone working at the airport. We are committed to better pay in all sectors, better protection against emissions, less competition between handling companies and better conditions of employment in baggage handling. That's how we can make sure people come to work at Schiphol and stay here.

Joint plan of action

Together with the six baggage handling companies – KLM, Aviapartner, Menzies, Swissport and Viggo – we submitted a plan of action to the Netherlands Labour Authority in September 2023. This plan aims to reduce the physical workload of colleagues in the baggage halls as much and as quickly as possible.

Lifting aids
In the short term, we'll achieve this by equipping every work location with mechanical support by the end of April 2024 at the latest. This could be a baggage robot (nineteen have been purchased), a transfer belt (we've bought thirty of these) or a lifting aid (eighty have been ordered).

In the long term, the parties are working on making work in the baggage halls fully automated. Over the coming 1.5 years, we'll be conducting trials with the latest technologies, such as an automatic unloading facility and baggage robots. This does not mean, however, that colleagues will no longer play a part in baggage handling.

Social agreement extended

Together with the trade unions FNV and CNV, we agreed in October 2023 to follow up the social agreement for colleagues at the airport. In this way, we ensure that Schiphol remains an attractive place to work and at the same time we structurally improve the quality of the work.

Labour market supplement
The agreement consists of two parts. First of all, we are extending the labour market supplement. Colleagues who accompany people with reduced mobility or who work in security, cleaning or private bus transport will receive a supplement of € 1.40 gross per hour worked until 1 September 2024 and then a supplement of € 0.70 until 31 December 2024. Furthermore, the parties involved in the social agreement believe that decisions on these types of allowances or other forms of primary remuneration belong to discussions surrounding the collective labour agreement. That is why it has been decided in the social agreement that Schiphol will automatically follow up on rate adjustments that are the result of collective labour agreements.

Quality of work
Second of all, we are going to structurally improve the quality of work at Schiphol. For example, we have agreed that the quality of work will be laid down in principles for cooperation and a code of conduct for suppliers. We also continue to work on improving rest areas and sanitary facilities, take measures to encourage security companies to use their own permanent staff as much as possible and we focus on reaching women when recruiting security staff.

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