JetBlue is fighting for permission to launch Amsterdam service

Group Team

 JetBlue launched its European service in 2021 with flights to London and will start flights to Paris this summer. It appears that Amsterdam was to be the carrier's third Europe destination, but JetBlue hasn't been able to secure slots at Schiphol Airport. 

Now, the carrier is pushing back against the Netherlands government.

In a Feb. 14 filing with U.S. Department of Transportation, JetBlue complained that the Netherlands government is in violation of the U.S.-EU open skies air transport agreement "by failing to ensure JetBlue is provided all operating authorizations, including slots, required to conduct international air transportation at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol."

JetBlue on Sept. 12 requested that Airport Coordination Netherlands, the independent governing body that allots slots at Schiphol, reallocate to JetBlue two slots previously held by Aeroflot. JetBlue planned to fly daily this summer between Amsterdam and two U.S. destinations: New York JFK and Boston. The request was denied on Sept. 19. 

JetBlue claims that the reason it has not been awarded slots is because of the Netherlands government's noise-reduction plan, which involves a "drastic reduction" in the number of annual flight movements at Schiphol, even though JetBlue would operate the routes with Airbus A321LR aircraft, which are "quieter and lower-emitting than the vast majority of aircraft" serving Schiphol today. 

JetBlue in the filing noted that in support of that noise-reduction plan, Airport Coordination Netherlands has retired slots that otherwise would be made available to new entrants.

JetBlue added that the Netherlands government has "made no serious attempt to explain how the lack of any accommodations for new entrants under its planned environmental measure" is consistent with IATA's Worldwide Slot Guidelines and the EU Slot Regulation, which cover setting aside a specific percentage of slots for new entrants. 

Further, JetBlue attempted to access slots via codeshare and interline partners. It found a willing partner, but JetBlue was denied on Oct. 4, according to the filing. 

The allocating body advised JetBlue that such usage would be permitted only if JetBlue were engaged in revenue-sharing joint operations or a blocked-space arrangement with the other carrier. JetBlue said the ruling "blatantly discriminates against low-cost carrier business model choices and other airlines that elect not to be part of an international immunized alliance."

JetBlue submitted another slot request on Oct. 6, which was rejected on Nov. 2. The carrier also appealed to Air France-KLM for slots but was denied on Nov. 2. After Flybe ceased operations in late January, JetBlue requested that carrier's slots, even on a temporary basis, and again was denied.

The carrier said it "sought repeatedly" to discuss the issue with the government, and "until only very recently" the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, which is responsible for aviation policy in the Netherlands, declined to meet with JetBlue.

Further efforts "would be futile," according to the filing, which concludes with a request that if the carrier is not granted the Aeroflot or Flybe slots, the DOT "should require KLM to provide such slots to JetBlue." 

The carrier argued that KLM is part of an alliance with Delta, Air France and Virgin Atlantic, for which DOT has granted antitrust immunity, and that comes with "slot transfer conditions" to ensure competition.

Source: Business Travel News


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