Post-pandemic flights have been defined by delays and cancellations, but could Europe’s new environmental protections become a priority, too?

Just as global demand for air travel is soaring back to pre-pandemic levels, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport announced that it will be permanently reducing the number of flights going through each year. There are a few reasons to do so, but curbing climate change and environmental pollution was at the top of the list. 

In June, Dutch transportation officials announced that, starting in 2023, Schiphol would see only 440,000 flights per year—or 700,000 passengers per day. It’s a 12 percent downsize from 2019 traffic. That’s significant, considering Schiphol is the third most-trafficked airport in Europe, after London’s Heathrow and Paris’ Charles De Gaulle.

“Attention must be paid to reducing the negative effects of aviation on people, the environment, and nature,” said the Transportation Ministry in their announcement. The Ministry adds that the flight reduction will form the “basis of a new equilibrium” as they work on “connecting the Netherlands with the world as an increasingly quieter and cleaner Schiphol.” 

In a time when most airlines and airports are trying to maximize output and numbers, it’s a refreshing perspective to take.