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Thu 21 May 2015 12:22 PM

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Dutch gov't blocks Gulf carriers' expansion at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport

No new landing rights for Emirates, Etihad or Qatar Airways, according to official at the transport ministry

Dutch gov't blocks Gulf carriers' expansion at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport

A Dutch government minister has said Gulf carriers will not be allowed new landing rights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

Dutch newspaper, Financieele Dagblad, reported that the government has moved to stop Gulf airlines from obtaining any more landing rights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport because of claims of unfair competition.

Owned by the Dutch government and local authorities, Schiphol is a key aviation hub in Europe and is ranked as the sixth busiest by international passenger traffic. Owing to increasing pressure from airlines like Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad, the Dutch government has moved to stop further Middle East airline expansion amid claims of unfair financial support from their respective governments.

Speaking to Financieele Dagblad, Holland’s junior transport minister Wilma Mansveld said: “I want, together with my European colleagues, to take a tougher approach to the rise of airlines in the Middle East if there is talk of unfair competition,” she said.

Peter Hartman, former CEO of KLM and current member vice-chairman of Air France-KLM, said the threat of air carriers from the Middle East “will directly have a big impact on employment, and around Schiphol in the Netherlands".

In March this year, the European Commission said it would address French and German concerns over what they see as unfair subsidies to Gulf carriers and propose a commercial aviation agreement with the Gulf region later this year. The aviation agreement, EU transport ministers agreed, would be a way to stop European airlines losing market share to Middle East competitors.

French transport minister Alain Vidalies said any commercial flying agreement including the granting of air traffic rights to foreign carriers should be accompanied by provisions allowing member states to monitor potential illegal subsidies and unfair competitive practices.

Emirates’ President Tim Clark said last week that it could expand its route network by using European hubs to fly into North and South American cities.

"Expand further from European hubs into the US? Yes we might do that," Clark told The National newspaper. "The kind of abuse we've been getting might cause us to do it. And after Milan, we can see how profitable it is. If the Danes or the Swedes were to come to us and say ‘we haven't got enough flights into the US, would you consider it?’, yes we might do that."

Emirates operates a twice-daily service to and from Amsterdam, and Etihad Airways likewise operates a twice daily service from to and from Abu Dhabi, while Qatar Airways is due to launch its daily service between Doha and Amsterdam on June 16.

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