Four international aviation groups, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA), have called on the caretaker government of the Netherlands not to push through proposed cuts to flight numbers at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. 

Along with Airlines for America, the European Business Aviation Association and the European Regions Airlines Association, IATA said that the “controversial” decision currently before local courts should not be decided on by a government that could leave office in a few months’ time. 

The Government of the Netherlands collapsed in July 2023 after a disagreement on asylum policies between coalition parties, leaving Prime Minister Mark Rutte forced to lead under a caretaker government until elections in November. 

IATA Director General Willie Walsh stated: “It is essential that any decision be postponed until a fully functioning and accountable government with a fresh mandate is in place. 

“This unprecedented and complex proposal can then be considered carefully, with the legal questions settled and the full facts and implications understood and in the public domain, and with sufficient time for the air transport industry to adapt if necessary when a final decision is known.” 

The association said the proposed cuts would “negatively impact passenger and freight services” and warned of retaliatory international action if they were rushed through. 

A statement said: “Any attempt by… a failed government in caretaker mode to rush through the flight cuts at Schiphol would be irresponsible on several levels.” 

First announced in 2022, the proposal to limit annual flight numbers from Schiphol to 440,000, down from 500,000 previously, was said to be a way of reducing noise and air pollution from the airport but received strong pushback from the aviation industry. 

A legal challenge led by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, along with IATA and companies such as Delta, Corendon, easyJet and TUI, was based on the lack of consultation by the government ahead of announcing the proposals. The challenge ended when an appeals court sided with the government. 

However, the coalition of airlines and associations has since begun proceedings attempting to take the case to the country’s Supreme Court. 

IATA has also pointed to the EU’s Balanced Approach agreement, which says that operational and flight restrictions should be a last resort when attempting to reduce noise, and should only come into play after a series of other steps have been taken. 

Earlier in 2023, IATA gave a similar warning around flight restrictions at another European airport after Belgium’s Minister of Mobility proposed a night flight ban at Brussels Zaventem Airport.