Night flights at Schiphol are the flights taking place between 23:00 at night and 07:00 in the morning. Planes taking off or landing during the night can disturb local residents’ sleep and therefore lead to extra nuisance. The amount of night flights permitted at Schiphol will go down from 32,000 to a maximum of 29,000 per year, in accordance with the next Airport Traffic Decree (Luchthavenverkeersbesluit LVB-1).
Published on: 9 July 2020
Airport Traffic Decree
According to Dutch law, Schiphol is allowed to have a maximum of 32,000 night flights. This number will be reduced to 29,000 in the next Airport Traffic Decree for Schiphol (Luchthavenverkeersbesluit LVB-1). The gradual reduction to 27,000 and then 25,000 night flights will be elaborated by the government and then legislated. These last steps are partly dependent on circumstances such as the opening of Lelystad Airport and the substitution of planes by trains to destinations like Brussels and Dusseldorf.
Why we have night flights
International trade and Schiphol’s function as a hub means that there are night flights. Travellers transfer from intercontinental flights to European ones at Schiphol. The intercontinental flights arrive at Schiphol in the early morning and their connecting European flights often leave in the morning so that people can arrive at their destination at the start of the working day. There are almost always cargo planes in the air and they fly throughout the night. It is, for example, important that post is delivered quickly. As a consequence, there are planes flying at night to distribution centres. Because Schiphol is the only airport in the Netherlands with night flights, there are also planes flying at night to holiday destinations. This allows airlines to make optimum use of their aircraft and compete with foreign operators, which in turn leads to more affordable ticket prices.
Late nights, early mornings
There are around as many night flights at Schiphol as at comparable airports such as London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt Airport. These airports do, however, have varying night-time hours. For example, night flights are not allowed at Frankfurt Airport, but their night-time period is from 23:00 to 05:00 (and at this time in the morning there is a lot more air traffic than at Schiphol). This means a great deal of nuisance late at night and early in the morning. Paris and London also have differing times and rules. Moreover, these cities are close to alternative airports where night flights are possible.
Minimising nuisance at night
Schiphol charges higher take-off and landing fees during the night, especially for the noisiest aircraft. In addition to fewer flights between 23:00 and 07:00, Schiphol and Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL) are working together on the optimisation of runway use and night-time flight routes and procedures in order to minimise nuisance. Hence, there is only one runway for take-off and one runway for landing in use at night – usually the Polderbaan and Kaagbaan runways. These runways are subject to fixed flight paths for leaving and approaching the airport, so that aircraft can avoid flying over concentrated residential areas as much as possible. Planes also make use of continuous descent approach and therefore use less engine capacity. Furthermore, a plan drawn up by Schiphol and Air Traffic Control the Netherlands contains nine new measures aimed at night-time nuisance minimisation.
Find out more about the night-time nuisance-reducing measures on the website minderhinderschiphol.nl(Dutch only).