The endless debate on how best to square air traffic growth at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport with concerns over the ensuing noise pollution goes on. The incoming government promptly tightened the screw after its election victory in March, reducing the allowable noise footprint from that agreed previously.

Yet the issue was fudged again in October when the Dutch parliament tasked transport minister Tineke Netelenbos to come up with a plan that would ensure reasonable growth ... without the imposition of extra noise!

But Schiphol's problem in growing its business to meet demand becomes more acute with each passing day. What it does not need is another six months' delay before a decision more acceptable to the airport and its customers is reached.

In the meantime, the airport has to stay within the current rulings. These limit aircraft movements to 380,000 this year, with the number of dwellings to be affected within the artifically and, on the admittance of the airport unscientifically arrived at "noise zone" around Schiphol, not to exceed 12,000.

Schiphol's deputy head of strategic business development Eric de Boer says that Schiphol's slot allocation will ensure that it stays within the movements limit this year, and keep the rise to the 20,000 granted by the last government for 1999 and each year until the opening of the fifth runway in 2003.

Its room for manoeuvre is limited. It has already implemented several measures to limit noise nuisance, including late evening and early morning restrictions, higher landing fees for Chapter 2 aircraft, and steeper approaches and take-offs. But if there are no changes to the quota, Schiphol's growth will be limited to just over 5% a year.

Source: Airline Business