November 9, 2023 –SCHIPHOL – KLM could lose over a thousand flights to the United States over the Dutch government’s plans to downsize Schiphol, sources at the Dutch airline told De Telegraaf. The reduced flight movements resulted in American airlines losing 1,135 slots at Schiphol. If KLM loses the same number at American airports, that amounts to 22 percent of the Dutch airline’s total flights, insiders told the newspaper.
The Netherlands has an open-skies aviation treaty with the U.S., which stipulates that both countries have unrestricted access to each other’s market. A procedure against the downsizing plans is underway in the European Commission, but Minister Mark Harbers of Infrastructure decided not to wait for that ruling and push through with the plans to cut the number of flight movements to and from Schiphol Airport from 500,000 to 460,000 in April and then down to 452,500 the following winter. The U.S. Ministry of Transport considers that a violation of the treaty.
The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure confirmed to the Telegraaf that 1,135 slots are at stake. “There are only historical rights to 339 of those American slots. JetBlue is one of the airlines that will not have access next summer,” a spokesperson for the Ministry told the newspaper.
KLM is currently in very tense discussions with the Ministry, the newspaper’s sources said. The Ministry stressed that it is not yet clear how many slots KLM could lose, but the Dutch airline expects the United States to adopt a tit-for-tat attitude and cut the same number of slots as American airlines are losing at Schiphol. Minister Harbers said a few months ago that he would accept the risk of KLM losing some flights.
“The transatlantic partnership with Delta, Air France, and Virgin Atlantic is very important for the future of KLM. We have repeatedly pointed out to the Dutch government the possible consequences that forced downsizing could entail in the form of retaliation. This is very harmful to KLM and endangers the network that connects the Netherlands and the rest of the world,” a KLM spokesperson said.
Barin, the umbrella organization for airlines, accused the Dutch government of showing “ostrich behavior” – sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the problem – with regard to possible sanctions from other countries.