Herman De Wulf/BRUSSELS

Dutch charter airlines Martinair and Transavia are threatening legal action if a proposed night curfew goes ahead at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from 1 August.

The airport authority is seeking Government approval for a plan under which all operations between 23.00 and 06.00 would be banned. The curfew proposal is based on the acceptable level of aircraft noise permitted annually at the airport. Limits set by the Government in 1995 are being applied for the first time this year.

The Government approved the original plan in February, estimating the total number of movements for 1997 at 350,000, of which 13,500 would be at night. By the end of June, night movements had already passed 6,500. Growth sustained at this level would result in 14,200 for the whole year.

To keep within the Government limits, the Schiphol airport authority has now had to revise the plan to reduce aircraft night movements.

There is an increasing number of air-freight departures at night, and the curfew is aimed mainly at older widebodies such as Boeing 747 "Classics" and McDonnell Douglas DC-10s, which are considered "marginally Chapter 3".

Schiphol Airport president H Smits says that he is not happy with the measures forced upon his airport by the law, estimating that Schiphol may lose between 5% and 10% of total air freight this year - an estimated 30,000t.

Source: Flight International