Amsterdam becomes ‘activist shareholder’ of Schiphol

The city council of Amsterdam demands that Schiphol airport shrink to 400,000 flights. The city council also wants a complete night closure from 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Amsterdam is not only a neighbouring municipality of the airport, but also a co-owner. The city owns 20 percent of the shares of Schiphol Group. The rest is owned by the Dutch state (70 percent), Rotterdam (2 percent) and Schiphol itself (8 percent).

The municipality of Amsterdam, like the central government, was in favour of expanding the airport for decades. With 500,000 flights per year, Schiphol was able to grow into one of the largest airports in Europe, which relies on transfers brought in and out by home carrier KLM.


That attitude has changed significantly in recent years. First the growth had to be limited and then stopped. At the end of last year, Amsterdam agreed with the government to downsize to 440,000 flights. And now the city council is going one step further by demanding that Schiphol return to 400,000 flights. ‘Economic interests have predominated for a long time. Now we are putting local residents and the climate first,” says the responsible alderman Hester van Buren. ‘And from now on we consider ourselves as activist shareholders to achieve those goals.’

Residents have made an important contribution to this change of course. There has been intensive contact with the civil servants and the alderman for years. This is not about complaints but about arguments. In particular, the videos from the PVA residents’ group about the disadvantages of the hub function are crystal clear and can only be interpreted one way: only significant shrinkage offers solutions, not least for housing. Amsterdam is struggling with a huge shortage of homes that are not allowed to be built because of the noise.

Under pressure from court rulings, the government will have to agree to reduce capacity at Schiphol. But the battle is not over yet.