28 Nov 2017

The expansion of Lelystad airport

Justin writes*

The Netherlands has many traits that appeal to the rest of the world. The tourism sector has been growing at a steady rate over the past decade. With its extravagant capital, Amsterdam, it has become known for its party hub in Europe attracting people from all over the world. This alongside its other big cities like The Hague, the international city of peace and justice, and Rotterdam, known for its large port and big business, it shows that it is a country aiming for economic growth. The majority of the people traveling into the country by plane go through Schiphol Airport, which has now reached its limit for expansion (the airport had 480,000 "movements" in 2016). This has led to the Schiphol group to go to Lelystad airport to create a new international airport.

Ready for 40,000 more flights?
The plan proposed by Schiphol group shows that they want to increase the airport size from the “5,000 annual flights now to 45,000 flights in 2043”. With roughly half a million flights making their way across dutch skies per year an additional 40,000 seems like it would come at a cost as well. Schiphol group have justified the project because of its positive impact on the economy, and because it allows “Schiphol to remain a leading airport on an international level”.

It will mainly look to accommodate holiday flights making the mainport in amsterdam focus on its regional importance for business and cross continental flights. As mentioned earlier, the announcement of the expansion has not come without opposition. One of the main arguments coming from KLM, holland's largest airline, and the Chairman of the General Dutch Association of Travel Companies, is that Schiphol has plenty of space to grow and to become more efficient without moving to Lelystad. If Schiphol has room to grow internally the expansion of Lelystad airport can therefore be excessive and bring more potential costs than benefits. Many residents in neighboring provinces are worried for the air and noise pollution that will come with the extra flights. The environmental damage that the aviation sector brings with it will therefore not go unnoticed with the large amounts of “CO2 emissions and their impact on climate change.

Current air regulations also force airplanes flying into Lelystad airport to fly extremely low for much longer than avarage, meaning that the first couple of years of growth will be very unpleasant for roughly 750,000 people. Above all of this Schiphol has also been known to undermine rules concerning noise, calculating sounds coming from aircrafts instead of actually measuring them as they are almost always more loud through measuring. This representation of asymmetric information could thus refer to more problems in the coming future.

Bottom line: The expansion of Schiphol group through Lelystad airport could have negative environmental impacts that will go unaccounted for when the project takes shape. The large amounts of CO2 emissions caused by an increase in flights could be more costly than the economic profit the extra airport will bring.

* Please help my environmental economics students by commenting on unclear analysis, other perspectives, data sources, etc. (Or you can just say something nice :)


Brian Yu said...

Hi Justin,

This is a particularly interesting environment to analyze because it is relevant to all people who use the Amsterdam Airport or live nearby. I think it is important to further research the "economic profit" that you introduce in this blog post. While tourism in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, might be increasing, the new airport might simply act as a improved gateway to Europe for many travelers. With the new airport, locals might bear the cost of the CO2 emissions and the noise solution, while all the gains are experienced by the private airline companies. It is possible that the larger airport provides an increase in the quantity of jobs for locals. One other cost that is relevant to the discussion is how the NS Trains will have to change their routes to accommodate the increase in people traveling to Lelystad. Will locals bear the cost for the public transport being expanded around the airport?

-Brian Yu

Justin said...

Thanks for the advice Brian! I will make sure to look into these factors!

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