Netherlands eyeing aviation growth after pandemic


If the aviation sector starts growing again after the coronavirus crisis, Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management will allow the sector room for this, according to the Aviation Memorandum the government agreed upon on Friday. The sector will have to reduce its environmental damage, but the demands are not all that demanding, according to newspaper Trouw.

The Aviation Memorandum states that aviation must earn its growth – first reduce noise pollution and environmental damage, then grow. By 2050, the sector must halve its CO2 emissions compared to 2005. As 2005 was a top year for aviation, the target is not very ambitious, and much less than the climate targets for other sectors which have to use 1990 as a reference year.

The Minister’s plans seem to be at odds with the growing group of Netherlands residents who are in favor of reducing air traffic. An August survey by Motivaction, commissioned by Van Nieuwenhuizen, showed that 49 percent of Dutch are in favor of reducing air traffic – twice as many as a year ago. Only 14 percent still think the number of flights should be allowed to increase.

The aviation sector is pleased with Van Nieuwenhuizen’s long-term plans, according to Trouw. Schiphol is happy that it will remain a hub, where passengers from other airports come to transfer to planes with destinations further away. This means the airport can maintain its large network.

KLM has one point of concern – that the number of night flights at Schiphol must be reduced from 32 thousand to 25 thousand per year, and cannot be moved to late evening or early morning. That will cost the Dutch airline a lot of money, KLM said to Trouw. But overall, KLM is “overjoyed” with the long term perspective outlined by the Minister.

Last week, the Dutch airline announced that it was working with the government, Schiphol and rail company NS to make the train a more attractive option for short distances. The goal is to encourage consumers to rather take the train, instead of a flight, when traveling a distance of less than 700 kilometers.

“We see flying as a conscious choice for consumers and the train is a logical, sustainable alternative if you want to travel a short distance,” the airline’s CEO Pieter Elbers said.