Europe’s fourth biggest airport plans to ban private jets

Private jets produce 20 times more carbon dioxide emissions per passenger than commercial aircrafts.
Airplanes at terminals at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport
Europe's fourth biggest airport wants to ban all private and evening flights. Deposit Photos

Europe’s fourth busiest airport wants to ground private jet setters for good, making an unprecedented move that could set a new industry benchmark in tackling global travel emissions. In order to achieve the high-profile goal, however, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has a very bumpy journey ahead of it.

Per Bloomberg, the Netherlands’ largest air hub first made headlines last month when it announced plans to shutter all night flights and private jets from its runways beginning in 2026. Schiphol is overseen by the Royal Schiphol Group, a Dutch government majority-owned company whose interim CEO said at the time they “realize that our choices may have significant implications for the aviation industry, but they are necessary. This shows we mean business.”

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On Tuesday, Schiphol Airport representatives explained to Bloomberg that 30 and 50 percent of all its private jet flights are to holiday locales such as Cannes and Ibiza. Additionally, around 17,000 private flights passed through Schiphol last year, “causing a disproportionate amount of noise and generating 20 times more carbon dioxide emissions per passenger than commercial flights.”

A private jet can emit as much as two metric tons of CO2 during one hour of flight. And while private flights make up only four percent of global aviation carbon emissions, the richer half of humanity is still behind roughly 90 percent of all air travel pollution. Factor in the dramatic rise in private air travel, particularly since the onset of the COVID–19 pandemic, and it’s easy to see why public sentiment is turning against the notion of wealthy getaways and exclusive business jaunts.

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Many in the industry, however, aren’t thrilled by Schiphol’s new goals. One private jet charter company CEO argued to Bloomberg that their customers’ flights were mostly for “business,” while other critics argued passengers will simply transition to nearby alternative airports. The Royal Schiphol Group informed Bloomberg its closest neighbor, Rotterdam The Hague Airport, cannot accommodate the displaced flights, nor does the company plan to transfer flights elsewhere.

Royal Schiphol Group could face an uphill battle in accomplishing its goals, however. Most of its impending green goals require discussions with the company’s stakeholders—such as Delta Air Lines and France-KLM, who previously sued the Dutch government regarding caps on flights. Then there’s Transavia Airlines BV, who oversee the majority of night flights out of Schiphol. Regardless of the final outcomes, Royal Schiphol Group is still setting a very public example when it comes to raising awareness regarding air travel’s exorbitant effects on the planet, and the importance of finding solutions to these issues before it’s too late.