US Department of Transport approves JetBlue, A4A complaint against Dutch

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The U.S. government has approved a complaint brought against the Netherlands and European Union by Jet Blue and industry group A4A over landing slots at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, Jet Blue said on Friday.

JetBlue said in a statement that it has asked the U.S. government to pursue countermeasures after being denied landing slots at Schiphol, one of Europe’s main air transport hubs.

The move follows a decision this week by Schiphol’s slot coordinator to reduce slots for the summer of 2024 as ordered by the Dutch government, with none available to new entrants including JetBlue.

JetBlue said industry group Airlines for America (A4A) has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to delay granting an application by German company USC GmbH for a U.S. air carrier permit until the matter is resolved.

Separately, in a letter dated Nov. 2, the Department of Transportation said it has approved two complaints filed by JetBlue and A4A against the Netherlands and the European Union in relation to the dispute.

The Dutch government plans to cut flights at Schiphol to 452,500 per year, almost 10% below 2019 levels, to reduce noise and other pollution.

The move is being contested by Dutch flag carrier KLM, part of Air France-KLM, and by industry groups including the IATA. A4A said that U.S. airlines will lose 339 landing slots as a result of the Dutch plan.

“The Department finds that…capacity reduction measures being undertaken at (Schiphol) constitute unjustifiable and unreasonable activities … and are in violation of the of the U.S.- EU Air Transport Agreement,” the letter signed by Assistant Secretary Carol Petsonk said.

She said the U.S., Netherlands and European Commission would meet on Nov. 13 to discuss the matter, but ordered Dutch airlines to submit their U.S. flight schedules in case it decides countermeasures are necessary.

A spokesperson for the Dutch Transport Ministry said on Friday that the Dutch government has received communications from the U.S. over the dispute and is considering its response.

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Tomasz Janowski, Kirsten Donovan)