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Dutch government to limit Schiphol slots


Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, which has grown to be one of the world's key transfer points for international travel, will see its number of flights scaled back to 2014 levels under plans by the Dutch government.

The Infrastructure Minister, Mark Harbers, told the Dutch Parliament that the reduction is needed to cope with noise and other forms of pollution, and that a balance must be struck between "the importance of a good international airport, a good business climate and the importance of a better and healthier living environment."

The limits will allow 440,000 take-off or landing slots next year. Harbers told MPs that "It is an illusion to think you can have 500,000 flights in this situation... Local residents are inconvenienced by flight noise and are concerned about the effects of aviation on their health, the environment and the climate."

The new measures would be for five years, with the goal by the end of that time to have new regulations based on the actual level of noise and emissions, rather than the number of flights. Airline industry spokespeople have opposed the rules, and say it will raise airfares so only the rich can afford them.

Harbers also said that the government has still come to no final decision about the future of Lelyveld Airport, earmarked to take some of Schiphol's traffic. That plan was near implementation a few years ago, and was then put on hold over possible environmental and engineering issues. A decision is set for 2024.

The new measures are apart from the current crisis at the airport, with overflow crowds and staff shortages forcing a variety of cancellations and temporary measures.

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