In half an hour at the airport: regional airports see opportunities now that Schiphol has to shrink

For most flights from our country you can not avoid Schiphol. But this summer and in the future there will be much less flight there. It is an option for regional airports, which are only too happy to see the extra travelers coming.

The summer holidays are just around the corner, and for at least tens of thousands of air travelers, it is still unclear what the holidays will look like. Schiphol announced a few weeks ago that it was limiting the number of travelers due to the lack of staff. In the last weeks of July, this means that 13,500 passengers a day cannot go there.

Still very possible in the north

Regional airports see this as an opportunity because some of the flights are being relocated. “We would like to help even more if we can,” says Meiltje de Groot, director of Groningen Airport Eelde. She is also chairman of the Airport Association.

They are not bothered by staff shortages in the north, she says. “In northern Holland, we still have people we can help find work. We still get unsolicited applications.” Negotiations are underway to tempt airlines such as TUI, Transavia and Corendon. “Everything is always very focused on the west, but they should look up to the west. There is much more possible here in the north.”

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The airport can still grow

Where Schiphol is reaching the limits of its capabilities, according to De Groot in Eelde, they have room to grow at least until 2024. “We have a permit where there is still room. The quieter the plane becomes, the more we can receive.” From 1 January 2025, there will be a new aviation decree, where the boundaries of the airport will be set again.

Eelde is committed to making aviation greener, which should reduce nuisance and even benefit the environment. “We want to make the airport more sustainable and play a pioneering role there with solar panels and hydrogen. We want zero emissions by 2030 and thus become an energy city. We want to further expand our sustainable energy and also contribute to the energy region’s needs.”

More flights from regional airports: is it the future?

Tours for locals popular

The airport is already doing a lot to involve local residents and to prevent or eliminate any resistance. For example, discussions are held with village councils, kitchen table conversations with residents and open days are held.

In addition, there are several monthly guided tours of the airport for local residents by volunteers from the Friends of Groningen Airport Eelde Foundation. “Those tours are always full. Most of the ordinary people here are proud of the airport. Knowing what’s going on here also creates support.”

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Prestige project

But not everyone can be convinced. Jan Wittenberg is chairman of the Association of Local Residents Airport Eelde (Vole): “This airport is a prestigious regional policy project. It is a shame that they dare to say that they will grow to a million people. It is nonsense. To give the impression that the airport makes sense. ” Local residents experience great inconvenience from KLM flight school, he says.

According to Wittenberg, tens of thousands of millions are being invested time and time again in the airport by the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen, but that is a waste of money. “It’s a big shame, but the mood is that we also want an airport in the north. It’s a high Calimero level.” At the beginning of this year, Vole enforced through the Council of State that a new decision on the permits must be made by the beginning of 2025 at the latest.

‘Eelde airport is redundant’

He does not believe that the acute problems at Schiphol will play into the hands of the northern airport because travel organizations are looking hard for locations from which to transport their customers. “The joy of Eelde taking over aircraft from Schiphol is timeless. They have been trying for 10 years. It gives management and regional politicians the feeling that they are important.”

Wittenberg does not see this happening, even now that the need is so great. “I expect that no planes will be transferred. People are not at Schiphol. Are they going here by bus or by bus back? It’s a logistical drama. Those companies are not crazy. They can not earn anything on this. This determines the redundancy by Eelde. We will wait until the plug is pulled out. We will assume that. “


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‘Request for extension of flight times rejected’

When it comes to taking over flights in the short term, Wittenberg is pretty much right at the moment. According to airport director De Groot, talks have been held with various travel organizations. According to her, Corendon will bring extra passengers to Eelde and plan direct flights from Eelde, instead of with a stopover. The actual rescheduling of flights has been seriously discussed with TUI, but it has failed as it is only allowed to fly between kl. 6.30 and 23.00.

A request to the Minister to temporarily allow an extension of flight times has not been granted. TUI writes in a statement: “Groningen Eelde Airport was an interesting option, but also has limitations in opening hours. Both TUI and the management of Groningen Eelde Airport have repeatedly and emphatically forwarded the request to the authorities to temporarily provide more space in this extraordinary Unfortunately, these requests were not approved. ” The tour operator is now moving to Rotterdam and Liège.

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Larger airports in one organization

Meiltje de Groot would have liked to help solve the problems for travelers at Schiphol, but her plans with Eelde go much further than this year. Schiphol will shrink by 60,000 flights a year. As chairman of the Dutch Airport Association, De Groot lobbies for a much larger role for regional airports. “It is now about the summer, but from the association’s perspective, it is about an integrated system for all air traffic. One could look more wisely at whether one can use other airports, but the government is still not doing enough.”

The Dutch Association of Airports wants to merge the five largest airports in the Netherlands and make them part of one organization. “Finland does the same. Then you can go on holiday from your own region. You have to organize it, and then you have to bring in money from Schiphol. We would like to take a closer look and discuss it. We do it among ourselves, but we have the government to it.” necessary as a shareholder in Schiphol. “

Airport important for regional development

According to her, airports should be part of the social infrastructure just like highways and trains. “You have to be good with money, but it’s about more than just commercial aviation. I would like Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag to invest money in sustainability, quality and reliability.” The current return targets ensure that everything should be as cheap as possible. “

“You can always start with the argument about the bottomless, but it’s too simplistic. You also do not look at the train in Rodeskolen. Sometimes there are few people there, but you also have to remember that. Accessibility is important for the development of a region. “

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