Schiphol Group president and chief executive Jos Nijhuis described Amsterdam as “London’s second hub”.
The airport handles up to eight million UK passengers a year, 60% of whom connect to onward flights.
Nijhuis said: “We have flights to 26 destinations in the UK; Heathrow has six. We are London’s second hub and doing very well.
“I tell [Heathrow chief executive] John Holland-Kaye: ‘Consider our most western runway as yours. We can rename it Heathrow Runway Three.’”
KLM chief executive Pieter Elbers (pictured) said: “I don’t think additional capacity in London would make Heathrow more attractive than Schiphol to passengers in Newcastle or Humberside. Amsterdam is an attractive alternative to Heathrow because everything is under one roof.
“In Amsterdam, we have an airport that handles 55 million passengers a year in a country with a population of 17 million. Logistics is an integral part of the Netherlands economy.”
Nijhuis said: “We are a much better transfer airport [than our rivals]. We designed the airport for transfers. Our competitive strength is the combination of hub and carrier [KLM]. It’s only possible to have a high proportion of transfer traffic if you make transfers as easy as possible. The airport has been designed to the specifications of KLM.”
Elbers conceded: “A third runway at Heathrow would impact our business.” But he put this down to the potential impact of increased charges at Heathrow to pay for runway construction.
“Heathrow is already not a cheap airport,” said Elbers. “We have discussions about the potential impact on the cost of operations. We will follow closely what happens.”
However, Elbers does not foresee a reduction in KLM’s operations at Heathrow even if KLM passengers have to pay higher charges to finance the airport’s expansion. He said: “We would be keen to have more slots at Heathrow. People will always go to London.”
Elbers pointed out that Schiphol could not expand unrestrictedly. “We have five runways and we are happy with that, but it does not mean we can do what we want,” he said.
“There are restrictions on the hours of the day we can operate, on the runways we can use at certain times and in certain weather.
“We have our challenges, mainly with the reduction of environmental impacts. There are potential limitations on the growth of Schiphol. They are political and environmental limitations, not physical, based on noise and pollution.”
Elbers was speaking this week as KLM launched a three-times-a-week service from Amsterdam to Bogota and Cali in Colombia.
Heathrow to reduce charges on domestic flights from £29.59 to £19.59 from Ist Jan 2016 – to reduce number flying via Schiphol etc
Heathrow plans to cut the fees it charges airlines for domestic passengers. It says that from 1st January 2016 it will reduce the minimum departure charge for all flights (currently £1,406) to £1,268.40 per domestic flight. It will also cut the charge from £29.59 to £19.59 per passenger, in a bid to increase the number of passengers flying between UK regional airports and Heathrow. Heathrow serves just 7 regional destinations, down from 18 in 1990. It hopes the lower charges on domestic routes would encourage fuller planes and make more efficient use of the limited number of slots for regional flights, which are less profitable for airlines than long haul flights. Heathrow also says it will reduce minimum charges per plane to £1,592.15 for EU flights and £2,689.82 for non-EU destinations. It will also cut the per passenger charge for passengers flying to European destinations by £5 to £24.59. They plan instead to charge more for the noisiest planes, and those that emit more NOx – with the overall changes revenue neutral. The aim is discouraging passengers flying via European airports like Schiphol, and using Heathrow instead. The environmental fees would rise from being 21% to being 28% of total airport charges. Heathrow also say that, if they get a 3rd runway, they would open 5 new domestic routes, including Humberside, Newquay and Liverpool.