JetBlue has filed an official complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation over the Dutch government’s plans to reduce noise pollution around Amsterdam Schiphol Airport by drastically cutting the number of flights allowed to take off and land at the country’s hub airport.
In its complaint, JetBlue says the ‘draconian and unfair’ policy will see its total ‘elimination’ from Amsterdam’s air travel market after less than a year of operating flights to the Netherlands.
JetBlue had to fight to acquire slots at Schiphol Airport and previously threatened legal action before the Dutch regulator relented and released two pairs of slots, allowing JetBlue to launch flights from New York JFK and Boston.
The inaugural JetBlue service to Amsterdam from New York JFK took off on August 29, while the Boston followed followed less than a month later on September 20.
The Dutch slot coordinator has so far only released takeoff and landing rights to JetBlue up until the end of March 2024, and at that point, JetBlue now fears the slots will be permanently withdrawn due to the government’s ‘aggressive’ noise reduction plans.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the airline claim the ‘experimental’ plan violates the Open Skies agreement between the United States and European Union and wants the DOT to take ‘targeted and impactful countermeasures’.
“Ejecting a U.S. carrier from the U.S.-Amsterdam air services market by failing to make any slots available for the upcoming scheduling season is a clear denial of an opportunity to compete,” the complaint alleges.
“For the better part of a year, the Dutch Government has utterly failed to provide any – much less a credible – explanation to either JetBlue or the Department for how new entrant access to AMS will be assured once the airport’s annual capacity is reduced to the levels called for under the Experimental Regulation.”
JetBlue has urged the DOT to take ‘immediate action’ as the airline is already selling tickets for Summer 2024 flights despite the fact that it might not have any slots to operate the services to Amsterdam.
The Dutch government’s plan is to impose a cap of 46,000 flight movements per year starting next summer, which is an 8% reduction to the existing cap at Schiphol Airport. By next winter, however, the cap could be reduced by a full 10% to just 452,000 flight movements per year.
Local airlines and industry associations have attempted to sue over the plans, but an Appeals Court recently handed an important victory to the government. Dutch flag carrier KLM says the government should focus on restricting older, noisier aircraft and restricting early morning flights rather than imposing arbitrary cuts.
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