DOT supports airlines’ plea against capacity cuts at Schiphol

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The problems of allocation of slots at the airportAmsterdam Schiphol (AMS) seem on the verge of degenerating into a transatlantic legal dispute while the US Department of Transportation (DOT) deemed the Dutch government’s flight reductions at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) to be anti-competitive and in violation of the Open Skies Agreement between the United States and the European Union.

For now, the DOT is only exercising the authority that the U.S. Department of Transportation has to require Dutch carriers (KLMthe freight carrier Martinair And TUI fly) that they submit their schedules to the United States within seven days, adding that “We will defer a decision on other countermeasures for now, including those proposed by JetBlue”. The DOT said it would continue consultations with the Dutch government and the European Commission on November 13 amid concerns in the Dutch government regarding its “experimental regulation” for noise reduction at Schiphol Airport by limiting annual aircraft movements to 452,500 per year by November 2024.

The Dutch airport slot coordinator, ANCL, has confirmed that JetBlue Airwayswhich launched daily flights from New York JFK and Boston to Schiphol in the third quarter of 2023, does not have historical slots at the airport and will not receive slots for the 2024 IATA summer season.

As part of the first stage of the plan to reduce flights at Schiphol, 84 airlines holding historical rights to the airport will have to reduce their portfolio of 3.1%. This represents a total reduction of 9,070 slots, of which 252 will come from Delta Air Lines. According to the ACNL, American Airlines will have 22 fewer slots at Schiphol next summer, United Airlines 53 and KLM 4,847.

It should be remembered that the industry trade group Airlines For America (A4A) and JetBlue had urged the DOT to take into account the measures taken by the Dutch government. “The ministry considers that, because the Netherlands did not follow the balanced approach, the phase 1 capacity reduction measures taken at Schiphol constitute unjustifiable and unreasonable activities under the IATFCPA (International Air Transportation Fair Competitive Practices Act) and constitute a violation of the Air Transport Agreement between the United States and the European Union., the DOT said in a filing. The DOT also said it remains concerned about the actions taken by the government of the Netherlands to “effectively preventing career opportunities for new arrivals from operating at AMS (Schiphol)”noting that it was particularly alarming that JetBlue, a relative new entrant to the airport, was informed that it will not receive slots for the summer 2024 season.

Although a Dutch court initially ruled against the government’s plan in April, an Amsterdam appeals court overturned that decision in July, calling the budget cuts a“temporary approach to a complex problem”. Other airlines and industry associations have joined forces to challenge capacity cuts at Schiphol. The International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the Council of Airline Representatives in the Netherlands (BARIN), Air Cargo Nederland (CAN) and the Association of Airlines of European Regions (ERA) are actively participating in the procedures against the airport’s new slot allocation policies. A previous case brought by KLM Royal Dutch AirlinesSchiphol’s main airline, has been rejected by the Amsterdam Court of Appeal.

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