Etihad and Emirates: no contact from Netherlands over Schiphol landing rights
27 / 05 / 2015
UPDATE: Etihad Airways and Emirates have claimed they have yet to be informed of any changes related to operations in the Netherlands, as the Dutch government introduces a temporary ban on extra landing rights being issued to Gulf airlines calling at Schiphol.
The Dutch government has blocked Gulf airlines from obtaining extra landing rights at Schiphol airport pending the results of European discussions over unfair competition related to Gulf airlines’ state funding.
The country’s junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld said: “I voiced my support during the last transport council in Brussels for the initiative of a number of EU Member States that proposed to draft a comprehensive agreement between Europe and the Gulf states.
"Such an agreement should address a wide variety of issues including safety, security, regulatory convergence, the establishment of a policy preventing unfair competition, as well as increased access to the aviation markets of both sides."
“It is common and standard practice not to engage in bilateral consultations when multilateral consultations (such as between the EU and the Gulf States) are ongoing.
"Since the granting of additional traffic rights will be part of such a comprehensive agreement, this means that the Netherlands will not issue any additional traffic rights to carriers from Gulf states, as long as negotiations on this agreement are ongoing."
The ministry was keen to point out to Air Cargo News that existing traffic rights would be respected.
The news comes as a debate rages in the industry whether Gulf airlines are flooding the market with capacity and whether they are able to do this because they are often state owned.
A ministry spokesperson added that existing bilateral aviation agreements stipulate that capacity offered by carriers should reflect actual customer demand.
The ministry would, together with the relevant aeronautical authorities, continue to monitor whether the capacity offered matches demand, and "what the effects are on the existing network of connections at Schiphol Airport".
An Etihad spokesperson told Air Cargo News it had yet to be informed of any changes.
"Etihad Airways has not received any notification regarding our operations to the Netherlands," it said.
"We continue to operate a daily service between Abu Dhabi and Schiphol in partnership with KLM, which is complemented by our codeshare partner KLM’s daily operation between Amsterdam and Abu Dhabi.”
An Emirates spokesperson said: “There have been no such notifications. Under the UAE-Netherlands air services agreement, there are no restrictions on the number of frequencies and the size of aircraft used.”
A spokesman for Schiphol, which has no control over landing slots, welcomed the government’s interest in the airport, but could not comment on the landing rights.
He said: "We as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol are doing all we can to hold and improve our mainport function as a hub.
"We are investing and rebuilding in order to improve processes for both passengers and airlines. Together with our homecarrier KLM we share this mainport vision.
"It is good that government takes its part on investigating on how it can add to our efforts to improve the mainport status. We do not comment on the specific measures the minister announced [on Tuesday]."
While it appears a future ban of further rights being issued may by in place, Qatar Airways is due to start a new flight from Doha to the Netherlands in June.