Fly less or innovate more? Air France-KLM CEO criticises Schiphol flight limits

by | Jan 31, 2023 | Airlines, Airports, Digital Transformation, Travel Tech

Fly less or innovate more? Air France-KLM CEO criticises Schiphol flight limits


Last week, the head of Air France-KLM critiqued the Dutch government’s decision to tackle environmental challenges by cutting airline slots at Schiphol Airport.

The government said last June that flights from Schiphol would be limited to 440,000 a year, down from 500,000 in a bid to reduce noise and air pollution, as well as deal with staff shortages.

Tim Hepher and Joanna Plucinska from Reuters reported:

At a company even in Paris, Chief Executive Ben Smith said, the Franco-Dutch airline group had invested heavily in newer planes based on foreseeable capacity at KLM’s hub only to see the goal posts move abruptly.

Ben Smith told reporters “You know we have a whole network, a whole fleet plan which is 25 years based on these slots […] That’s quite a big hit [they] have given us there,” adding that government efforts to curb emissions would be better directed at helping to scale up production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The CEO’s comments outline an interesting debate surrounding aviation and climate change. Should efforts, especially at a governmental level, be directed at reducing the overall number of flights occurring or assisting innovative solutions designed to curb emissions?

Aviation is famously a “hard-to-decarbonise” sector and sits in the public spotlight. Consequently, there have been many calls by activists for people to dramatically reduce the number of flights they take or stop altogether. There are even discussions surrounding frequent flyer levies in an attempt to reduce the total number of flights.

However, the industry is simultaneously making strong inroads to dramatically reduce its environmental impact. Within the last year alone, there have been successful hydro-electric emission free test flights, developments in eVTOL aircrafts, landmark SAF deals, and more.

Undoubtedly there is a balance to be struck. But which area do you think governments should direct most of their attention towards?


Article by Jess Brownlow