SCHIPHOL, NEW YORK - U.S. airline JetBlue has filed a complaint with United States Department of Transportation (DOT) about the planned downsizing that the Dutch government wants to implement at Schiphol Airport. The American budget airline fears losing its take-off and landing slots at the airport due to a reduction in flight movements. The company has urged the DOT to retaliate against a potential ban at Schiphol by giving KLM less rights to take-off and land at American airports.
JetBlue believes the contraction proposed by the Dutch government goes against international treaties that require that foreign airlines are given unrestricted access, according to the 61-page complaint. The U.S. has legislation that allows the government there to retaliate when American airlines are treated in an allegedly unfair manner. JetBlue wants U.S. authorities to put those resources to use.
The Dutch government wants to cut the number of flights to and from Schiphol from 500,000 per year to 460,000 per year starting in April, and to 440,000 a year later. JetBlue, which has only been flying from Schiphol to the U.S. since August, said it understands from conversations with the Dutch slot coordinator that its brand-new take-off and landing rights will be revoked.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management wrote to JetBlue earlier this week stating that the flight reduction will be equally distributed among airlines that have had take-off and landing rights at Schiphol for a long period. In that letter, which JetBlue attached to the complaint, the Ministry also acknowledged that it couldn’t address the budget airline’s concerns.
JetBlue believes it is important to have more competition on the routes between the Netherlands and the U.S. because they are largely operated by companies who work together in an alliance. KLM is part of one of those alliances. The U.S. government encouraged this cooperation by enforcing competition rules less strictly. JetBlue wants the DOT to reverse this if it is in danger of being disadvantaged by the contraction at Schiphol.
In a written response, KLM said it was not surprised by the news. "We have repeatedly pointed out to the Dutch government the possible consequences that a forced downsizing could entail." KLM also opposes the reduction to 460,000 flights per year.
The Noord-Holland court initially blocked the Dutch State from forcing a reduction in the number of flight movements at Schiphol Airport without first involving other stakeholders, like the airlines, in exploring other options to mitigate noise, air, soil and water pollution complaints. That ruling was overturned by the Appeals Court of Amsterdam, which said that the Dutch State is evaluating the cut in the number of flight movements on a yearly basis, and the more balanced approach required by European law only needs to be applied for more permanent measures.
A group of airlines and representatives from the aviation sector filed a further appeal with the Dutch Supreme Court.