JetBlue: DOT should boot Dutch carrier KLM from NYC if it loses Amsterdam flights

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JetBlue is asking the U.S. Department of Transportation to ban KLM from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in the event JetBlue can no longer fly out of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) due to the Dutch airport’s proposed efforts to reduce flight capacity.

In an Oct. 20 letter to the DOT, the New York-based carrier concluded that it will lose its slots at Schiphol if the Dutch government implements capacity cuts at the airport. The proposed cuts would reduce Schiphol’s capacity from 500,000 flights a year to about 452,000, according to German news agency DW. JetBlue argued that banning KLM from JFK would be a “proportional countermeasure” to the proposed flight caps.

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JetBlue launched daily flights to Amsterdam in August from New York, making the Dutch city the carrier’s third European destination. Jetblue added daily flights to Amsterdam from Boston in September.

The Dutch government’s proposal to cut capacity in an attempt to curb noise pollution at Schiphol — one of Europe’s busiest airports — has been met with pushback. KLM, which uses Schiphol as a major hub, and other airlines — including Delta Air Lines, Corendon Airlines, EasyJet and Tui Airways — had filed a lawsuit to block those plans.

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A previous Dutch court ruling was in favor of the airlines, arguing that the Dutch government did not comply with all European laws, which state that flight caps can occur only after all other avenues to limit noise pollution have been considered. However, a Dutch appeals court ruled in favor of the government in July, allowing the proposed measures to go into effect as early as 2024.

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KLM reiterated its stance against the flight limits at Schiphol in a statement, noting that it could face repercussions due to the proposed cuts.

“We have repeatedly pointed out to the Dutch government the possible consequences that a forced contraction could bring in the form of retaliation,” KLM said in the statement. “This is very damaging for KLM and endangers the network that connects the Netherlands with the rest of the world.”

Well before JetBlue started flying to Amsterdam, it had actively lobbied against the Dutch government’s proposal after experiencing regulatory roadblocks in Amsterdam. In February, JetBlue argued the Dutch government violated the terms of the open-skies agreement between the U.S. and European Union after it was denied slots at Schiphol multiple times.

While JetBlue ultimately received slots at Schiphol, it now believes it could lose those slots before the summer 2024 travel season, according to the letter. The carrier argued that if it is booted from Schiphol, customers would be left with fewer choices and higher fares.

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JetBlue also asserted that another way for it to stay at Schiphol would be if KLM transferred over some of its slots at the airport for the summer travel season.

The DOT did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication. JetBlue said it did not have any further comment on the matter.

“Nothing less than swift, decisive Departmental action, in the form of the proportional countermeasures JetBlue has described herein, will constitute a sufficient response,” the letter read.

View the letter here.

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