News: Five questions about contraction at Schiphol

Last Friday, the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management announced the measures it intends to introduce to reduce noise nuisance for local residents. This requires a so-called Balanced Approach procedure. We would like to explain what is currently going on.

Published on: 5 September 2023

What is happening?

As you may know, the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management (I&W) announced in the summer of 2022 that the number of aircraft movements to and from Schiphol must be reduced. But that can't happen overnight. The Dutch government must follow European rules for this, the so-called Balanced Approach procedure. Among other things, this must set the goals for reducing noise nuisance. Interested parties can react to the procedure and come up with alternative proposals to achieve these goals. We refer to these as stances.

After studying these stances, the Ministry has now put together a package of proposed measures and submitted it to the European Commission. The European Commission may announce their own stance on it. Only when the European Commission has expressed its opinion on the package will the Dutch government take a final decision on the contraction.

What has the ministry submitted to the European Commission?

The package consists of the following proposals:

  • The maximum number of aircraft movements at Schiphol will go down from 500,000 to 452,500 by November 2024. The ambition of the Dutch government was to go back to 440,000.
  • A maximum of 28,700 aircraft will be allowed to take off and land at night between 23:00 and 07:00 (this number was previously 32,000). In addition, these must be quieter aircraft.
  • Further restriction of the use of runways that, on balance, cause more noise nuisance.

What is the purpose of the proposed measures?

The proposed measures should lead to a noise reduction of approximately 15 percent during the day and 15 percent at night. To achieve the previously stated goal of a total 20 percent reduction in noise nuisance, the government wants to take further measures. That is why the government wants to further investigate the (partial) night closure previously proposed by Schiphol. You can read more information at (Dutch).

What will happen in the meantime?

In the meantime, the minister plans to implement a number of other measures. One of these is ending the so-called anticipatory enforcement of noise standards. This means that no measures will be imposed if noise levels are exceeded as a result of strict preferential runway use (whereby we handle air traffic on the preferred runways Kaagbaan and Polderbaan as much as possible).

Through a so-called experimental scheme, the Minister wants to continue strict preferential runway use, but in combination with an update of the limit values at the enforcement points. The experimental regulation assumes that a maximum of 460,000 aircraft movements are possible per year of use within these updated limit values. The intention is that this capacity reduction (currently a maximum of 500,000 aircraft movements are allowed at Schiphol) will take effect at the end of March 2024, the start of the summer season. More information about the experimental scheme can be found in an earlier article and on the central government website (Dutch).

What does Schiphol think about this?

We think it is good that the government wants to take the experimental regulation and the Balanced Approach procedure one step further. This provides more certainty and clarity for local residents, airlines and Schiphol itself.

We also fully support the principle of reducing disturbance for local residents. We have previously made fundamental proposals for this, which are contained in our 8-point plan. The plan includes a night closure, keeping out the noisiest aircraft and keeping out private jets. We expected to see these measures reflected in the package of proposed measures, also called a notification. At the same time, we see that the cabinet and political parties are now serious about the Schiphol night closure proposal. This is good news for local residents' sleep.

Furthermore, we continue to advocate for a truly innovative approach. We are in favour of a new system with clear noise and environmental limits, with aviation proven to become cleaner and quieter. That provides local residents and the sector with perspective. We ourselves are continuing to implement our 8-point plan.