Schiphol airport has been KLM’s home base since the airline’s inception in 1919. Over more than nine decades since then, KLM has grown into an airline of global proportions, despite its small domestic market. Schiphol too has grown into an international hub of flight connections where 70% of KLM’s passengers transfer en route to their final destination.
When KLM merged with Air France in 2004, its share in the international market also grew, which was certainly due in part to the high quality of the airport at Schiphol. Despite the crisis years of 2008 and 2009, which subdued growth in the international airline industry, demand for air transportation is now increasing worldwide. KLM wants to continue to play its part in this development and, with Air France and our SkyTeam partners, to continue to be a ‘global’ player. The growth in demand is demonstrated by the recent increase in air transportation to China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. AIR FRANCE KLM is Europe’s largest provider of air transportation in this sector. It is vital for this growth to be accommodated at KLM’s home base Schiphol, because, as in any other sector, stagnation would mean the irretrievable loss of market share. The competition is ferocious.
Driving the economy
If the airline industry grows, so too does Mainport Schiphol. Schiphol is an entity comprising businesses and activities that mutually reinforce each other. This makes the airport, together with the region, an international hub for flows of people, goods, money, information and culture. The activities that take place at Schiphol are, therefore, an important driving force for the Dutch economy and for employment. What’s more, Schiphol increases the attraction of the Amsterdam region for businesses: Amsterdam is in the top 10 European cities.
KLM understands that those living near an airport not only share in the benefits the airport brings – employment and economic activity – but also the burdens, such as noise pollution. As a member of the airline industry, KLM – with its activities and personnel – forms part of the surrounding area and wants to be a good neighbour. KLM is committed to working towards sustainable, selective and qualitative growth in the number of aircraft movements at Mainport Schiphol.
The Alders Roundtable is a consultation group chaired by the former Queen’s Commissioner for Groningen, Hans Alders. The roundtable was set up in December 2006 to advise the Dutch government on ways to achieve a balance between growth at Schiphol airport, noise pollution and the quality of the surrounding area up to 2020.
As a member of the Alders Roundtable, KLM reached an agreement at the end of 2006 with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Air Traffic Control the Netherlands, central government, administrators of the provinces and municipalities, and representatives of local residents to form the Schiphol Regional Review Board, the steering committee for Schiphol (Bestuurlijke Regie Schiphol, BRS), and the association of consultative platforms (Vereniging Gezamenlijke Platforms, VGP). The agreement contains the commitment that up to and including 2020, Mainport Schiphol would only be allowed to grow selectively to 510,000 aircraft movements a year, of which a maximum of 32,000 would be allowed to take place at night and in the early morning (between 23:00 hours and 07:00 hours). This growth has to occur in a way that, on balance, generates less noise pollution for local residents.
Experimenting with a new noise system from 2010
In the two years following 2008, this agreement was worked out at the same Alders Roundtable and resulted in a two-year experiment being launched on 1 November 2010 to test a new system of standards and enforcement, otherwise known as the ‘noise system’. It had become apparent that the old system was inadequate.
In the new system, takeoff and landings are distributed across the five runways in such a way that noise pollution is reduced even when the number of aircraft movements increases. Throughout the two years that the new system is being tested, local residents will be offered the same level of protection provided by the current system. This will be tested. The progress of the new system will be monitored every three months followed by a complete evaluation at the end of the two years. A decision will then be taken on whether or not to introduce the new system. All participants in the Alders Roundtable have a say in this process.
KLM’s main contribution to noise-abatement efforts is largely operational. For instance, technical innovations that allow aircraft to use different braking techniques – with or without engines. Takeoff and approach routes that traverse residential areas are also subject to adjustments so that the local area, on balance, experiences less noise pollution. KLM has also invested billions over the last few decades to build up a quieter and cleaner fleet. And it has spent years developing operational measures to limit noise pollution for local residents (see fact sheet operational measures below – noise abatement).
Hub systems and network
Schiphol is KLM’s hub. A hub is an airport that has a high concentration of transfer traffic; 70% of KLM’s passengers transfer at Schiphol en route to their final destination. Transfer traffic is extremely important to KLM. The hub at Schiphol is the beating heart of the KLM network. A complex pattern of arriving and departing aircraft, which starts early in the morning with the arrival of a large number of intercontinental flights.
Passengers can then transfer to connecting flights to European or other intercontinental cities and this goes on throughout the day until the last intercontinental flight departs at about 23:00 hours (see fact sheet network below).
Because our activities take place not only regionally but globally, KLM’s involvement in sustainable flight is widespread. KLM leads the field in sustainability, as illustrated by the fact that we have been rated number 1 on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, Airlines category, for years. KLM continues to dedicate itself to making the airline industry more sustainable and goes to great efforts, for instance, by limiting our environmental impact both in the air and on the ground. To this end, KLM has drawn up a Climate Action Plan and set itself the target of cutting CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 compared to 2009 levels.
On the KLM Takes Care platform, you will find examples of KLM’s efforts to achieve greater sustainability in the airline industry. The website also offers an opportunity to respond and share ideas. You will also come across the logo more often on the sustainable products and services KLM offers its passengers.