JetBlue has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to remove KLM Royal Dutch Airlines from John F. Kennedy International Airport after the Dutch government announced plans to reduce flights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
“If the Dutch government is allowed to effectively expel new entrant JetBlue from AMS without facing any consequential and proportional countermeasures from the Department, other governments may decide to follow suit,” JetBlue said, per Reuters.
The Department of Transportation has not yet responded to the request.
Why is the Dutch government limiting flights?
According to Reuters, the Dutch government released a statement last month explaining that the purpose of the move is to reduce noise pollution and cut down on emissions.
Transport Minister Mark Harbers said in the statement that the nation would limit flights out of the airport to 452,500 per year, which is 9.5% lower than the airport’s levels in 2019, per Reuters. If it is approved by the European Commission, the limit will go into effect next year.
While Schiphol itself supports the cap on flights, several airlines and industry groups were displeased by the news, per Reuters. KLM, the airline targeted by JetBlue’s proposed ban, is among those opposing limiting flights at Schiphol.
JetBlue has argued that this move violates the U.S.-EU Air Transport Agreement, which is an aviation treaty signed in 2007 designed to grant equal opportunity for U.S. and European airlines to provide international air transportation.
A spokesperson for the Dutch government told Reuters that the flight limit would not violate the treaty because it will not affect the actual traffic rights available to airlines.
How would this affect air travel?
JetBlue only recently began offering flights to Amsterdam, which became its third transatlantic destination, according to a statement from JetBlue announcing the new flights in April 2023. JetBlue does not offer flights to any other airport in the Netherlands.
While the Dutch government’s limit on flights at Schiphol would certainly cut down on the number of flights JetBlue could offer to Amsterdam, it is still unclear whether it would eliminate them completely. The flight limit would also affect the number of flights to other destinations within Europe.
If the U.S. DOT imposes the proposed ban on KLM, it would eliminate several routes. KLM offers several flights out of JFK, including routes to Stockholm and London, per the airline’s website. KLM offers flights to other American airports, including LAX and ATL, although only its flights out of JFK were mentioned in JetBlue’s proposal.
According to Reuters, the airline said it had warned the Dutch government that something similar to JetBlue’s proposed ban would occur in retaliation to the flight limit.
“This is very harmful for KLM and endangers the network that connects the Netherlands with the rest of the world,” the airline said, per Reuters.