Criticism of plan to reduce night flights KLM


“Awesome!” The silence in the Schiphol area during the corona crisis has pleasantly affected many local residents. There are many stories on social and traditional media about undisturbed sleep, without earplugs, without being awakened by the noise of airplanes. Win Brouwer from Uithoorn, normally a frequent complainant with noise nuisance, also speaks of a ‘miraculous’ effect. “I have lived here for sixteen years, but only recently have I discovered how many birds there are in this area. I walked out late at night and heard a sound that I was not able to get home well at first. It was the swelling engine of a starting plane. I was no longer used to that! ”

The silence energizes local residents to continue fighting one of the airport’s most disturbing phenomena: the night flights, between eleven o’clock in the evening and seven o’clock in the morning. Local residents of the Kaagbaan and the Polderbaan are the victims. On Friday, as one of the conditions in providing support to KLM, the cabinet stated that it would cooperate ‘as the largest airline at Schiphol’ in reducing the number of night flights. Initially from 32,000 per year to 29,000, then in two steps to 25,000 night flights per year. “The latter steps partly depend on conditions such as the opening of Lelystad Airport and substitution by train traffic at destinations such as Brussels and Düsseldorf,” the cabinet said.

Cigar from its own box

The announcement led to a bombing of scorn and criticism on Friday, particularly on social media such as Twitter. Not surprising, says Matt Poelmans, spokesman for the dozens of residents’ clubs that participate in consultations with government and aviation in the so-called Schiphol Environment Council. Poelmans: “When making agreements about the growth to 500,000 flights, the nuisance would also be limited, including fewer night flights. Half of the current 20 percent reduction is a cigar from their own box; it was promised but never executed. We have little confidence that the other half will not be delayed for years to come. Seeing is believing. ”

Many residents believe that the real solution to limit nuisance is the night-time closure of Schiphol. “One flight is enough to wake up and no longer fall asleep,” says Win Brouwer. “Therefore, abolish all night flights. Then you really make people happy. ” Poelmans: “People are entitled to their night’s rest. That is why we are fighting for a night closure, such as at Frankfurt airport. ”

Recently, the municipal councils of Uitgeest and Velsen also supported this position. The Council of Uitgeest calls living at Schiphol “downright unhealthy” and eight residents “insufficiently protected”. Councilor Jelle Brouwer (PvdA): “Our residents are particularly troubled by the night flights on the Polderbaan. GGD research has shown that 15 to 20 percent of the inhabitants have serious complaints about the night disturbance. So that must end. The announced reduction is a nice first step. We hope that the number of flights during the day does not increase. We believe that the maximum for Schiphol has been reached with 500,000 flights per year. ”

In Velsen, the disappointment is no less. Councilor Sebastian Dinjens (GroenLinks), who is also a regional representative for the Schiphol meeting: “The reduction from 32,000 to 29,000 night flights is an old promise that has never been fulfilled. Selling it to us again is not pure. ” The night flights cause “enormous nuisance”, he says, “much larger than the calculations of Schiphol suggest.”

Night flights are important to KLM: they connect European flights with flights to and from the US and Asia.

Link is “dirty trick”

Member of Parliament Suzanne Kröger (GroenLinks) is preparing an initiative law to reduce the number of night flights to zero. Kröger calls the announced reduction in night flights “vague” because it is not clear when the reduction will be achieved. According to her, there is also a ‘dirty trick’ by making the reduction dependent on the opening of the new Lelystad Airport. “This is how you play local residents of Schiphol and Lelystad against each other.” It is also a ‘missed opportunity’ that the government does not use the restart of aviation to make the sector more sustainable, the politician believes, and a night shutdown could contribute to this. Kröger: „Schiphol is located in the most densely populated area in the world. You must protect local residents well. There are reports from the World Health Organization proving that disrupting sleep has a huge impact on people’s health. ”

In addition to an end to night flights, residents of the Schiphol Environment Council also want a reduction in the number of flights during the day. Matt Poelmans: “Why do we, as a little frog country, need to have so many flights? Many people transfer to Schiphol, and they make twice as much noise as travelers who arrive or leave alone. The number of flights is best to 400,000 per year. This does not affect the accessibility of the Netherlands. What you should do is fly less over shorter distances like to London and Paris, and raise prices for fun flights and city trips. Now many people think: “if I don’t catch such a flight, I’m a thief of my own wallet.”

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