This month the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment is expected to present its view on Amsterdam Schiphol. We are looking forward to this Mainport Schiphol policy paper we think is crucial for Schiphol airport to keep its position as one of Europe’s main hub airports. One expected strategic initiatives is to give priority to development of Lelystad Airport and the other is the ambition of Schiphol itself. In this blog we discuss for the idea to include neighbouring Lelystad Airport in the Mainport vision, but also the main challenges.
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All parties involved in the Alders Agreements and the Aviation policy (2009) have committed to the selective growth of Mainport Schiphol. This means that, due to limited capacity, priority is given to hub traffic that adds the most value to the Mainport Schiphol. The focus is on traffic to business destinations both within and outside Europe, mainly operated by KLM and partners as well as other mainport-related parties. Other traffic may use regional airports, like Eindhoven airport and especially Lelystad airport. Why do we think Lelystad Airport is a good alternative?:
- For the growth of Lelystad currently sufficient political support exists.
- At a busy airport like Amsterdam Schiphol it is very hard to test the necessary new innovations that could potentially increase capacity both on land- as airside. Lelystad can be a perfect test site for Schiphol and the Dutch air traffic control (LVNL) for introducing innovative solutions, so that in the future even more growth is possible also at Schiphol Airport itself.
A real challenge is to make Lelystad Airport attractive to airlines to choose for. But there are some challenges to make Schiphol-Lelystad a successful twin-airport, the main challenges are:
- Airlines and travellers will need to be seduced to use Lelystad airport. The 2014 business case for the airport states that an attractive range of facilities, services, competitive rates and financial incentives will be required.
- The ‘Covenant Development Lelystad Airport’ stipulates that the parties pursue a sustainable and innovative development of Lelystad Airport. However, the location is not free of conflicting interests; aviation growth versus an expanding windfarm. In this particular case a choice must be made: a compromise in not possible, else the aircraft are soon to ‘slalom’ between the windmills.
- High priority should be given to develop ATC and development of airside procedures which have to be implemented at Lelystad Airport. While the pre-studies for the route design were concluded in 2014 a lot of work still needs to be done before they can be finalized.
A precondition for future growth
A successful Schiphol-Lelystad twin-airport can be seen as a precondition for future growth of Mainport Schiphol. The political will is there to do the necessary investments, it must be extended to solve the current conflicts of interest. The LVNL should not only make Lelystad airport’s route development an absolute priority, it is also a chance to implement new innovative technologies. By choosing this approach a win-win situation can be assured for both airports.
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