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Amsterdam Airport Schiphol expects to see dramatic drop in passenger and cargo traffic over 2009

Schiphol Group Pressrelease 5 Jan.09

Last year, a total of 47.4 million passengers travelled through Amsterdam Airport Schiphol; 0.8% less than the previous year. The number of air transport movements dropped by 1.8% to a total of 428,350. Cargo traffic also saw a downward trend in 2008, dropping by 1.4% to a total of 1,588,000 tonnes.

Schiphol Group new President Jos Nijhuis announced these preliminary figures at the New Year's reception on 5 January. This year, Schiphol expects to see a sharp drop in both passenger and cargo traffic, coupled with an expected 6% to 10% decline in air transport movements.

This expected decline in passenger and cargo traffic is a direct result of the global financial crisis.

The introduction of the Air Passenger Tax on 1 July of last year has also contributed to the fall in passenger numbers. As a result of the tax, low cost carriers and various other airlines operated 25% fewer flights at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

"Nobody knows how long and deep the current recession will be", Mr Nijhuis said. "In August we thought that passenger numbers would decrease by another 1% in 2009. However, as the global financial crisis deepened in the final months of 2008 we have had to reassess our business strategy. In a month's time, we expect to be able to provide more clarity on the matter. What is important is that we maintain our social function and keep operating efficiently, whilst also developing a response to rising competition from other airports and to the needs of airlines.
In any case, we will need to make adjustments to our budget and scheduled investments for 2009. Just a few months ago we had anticipated around 470 million in investments for 2009. But of these, several projects to the value of 180 million have been postponed at least until 1 April."

Corporate social responsibility
As Mr Nijhuis pointed out, corporate social responsibility will play a key role in the strategy for Schiphol's future and will remain a priority for investment over the coming year. 2008 saw the formulation of an Energy Blueprint and a Sustainable Mobility Concept as part of Schiphol Group's Climate Plan.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol aims to be carbon neutral with regard to its own activities by 2012, and generate at least 20% of its energy on-site in a sustainable manner by 2020. The airport is also aiming to cut NOx emissions and improve its accessibility.

Aviation Policy Document
Nijhuis expressed his desire to see the efforts of the Alders Platform participants reflected in the government's Aviation Policy Document, which is to be published this spring. "The government needs to create conditions so that 70,000 non-mainport-dependent flights can be handled at Eindhoven and Lelystad, leaving room for the growth of mainport-dependent traffic at Schiphol. As a business, we need to ensure that Lelystad and Eindhoven are able to offer an attractive, cost-competitive product.
We do not believe in forced relocation - the market will not allow itself to be displaced. Nor do we believe in spreading out flights over too many locations. Sufficient volume will be necessary in order to turn both airports into successful alternatives. A mere 10,000 flights will not be worthwhile," explained the Schiphol Group President.

Nijhuis expects to see the government improve the playing field in the Netherlands. "The Aviation Policy Document needs to consider the economic importance of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol at both national and regional level, and its significance for the business climate. After all, the presence of Schiphol with its approx. 260 international destinations is one of the most important motivators for international companies to establish themselves in this region.
In this context, it is promising that State Secretary Heemskerk for Economic Affairs recently commissioned McKinsey to draw up a plan to attract fifty international companies to the Netherlands."

Mr Nijhuis was also encouraged by Prime Minister Balkenende's statement in October that the government will work to prevent an accumulation of costs and subsequent negative effects on Schiphol's competitiveness in 2012, when European airlines are obliged to begin participating in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

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