JetBlue Requests DOT Intervention In Amsterdam Schiphol Slot Bid

JetBlue A321neo LR
A321neo LR in flight.
Credit: JetBlue

JetBlue Airways alleges Dutch authorities are in violation of the Open Skies agreement in a U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) filing that requests government intervention in the airline’s bid to launch daily flights to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) from Boston Logan International (BOS) and New York John F Kennedy (JFK). 

Amsterdam Schiphol would be JetBlue’s third European city destination once service to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) begins in summer 2023, joining existing London routes to both Heathrow (LHW) and Gatwick (LGW).

The filing comes on the heels of “diligent attempts to gain entry to the U.S.-Amsterdam air services market,” the carrier wrote in a Feb. 14 filing—including a denied request in September 2022 for two slots previously held by Aeroflot for daily roundtrip flights from JFK/BOS aboard an Airbus A321LR beginning in summer 2023. JetBlue currently has five A321LRs in service, with nine on backlog, Aviation Week Network’s Fleet Discovery shows, and 13 of the longer-range A321XLRs on order.

In its filing, JetBlue says it next identified a willing codeshare and interline partner airline operating at Schiphol, but in October 2022 was rejected by Schiphol slot coordinator Airport Coordination Netherlands (ACNL) and advised the move would only be permitted through “joint operations” with the other carrier involving a revenue sharing joint venture or a blocked spaced arrangement. The decision “blatantly discriminates against low-cost carrier business model choices and other airlines that elect not to be part of an international immunized alliance,” JetBlue wrote. The airline notes that “the former Aeroflot slots were retired by the Dutch Government instead of being made available for use by a new entrant,” in support of a government plan to reduce noise through a reduction of annual flight traffic. 

JetBlue added that it was also unsuccessful in obtaining Schiphol access through a slot request to Air France-KLM, through the IATA Worldwide Airport Slot Guidelines (WASG) processes, and in its most recent attempt, in a request for Flybe’s former slots.

“The importance of new entrant access at AMS cannot be overstated given the extent of immunized airline alliance activity in the transatlantic market,” JetBlue wrote. If the Schiphol slots are not made available, JetBlue asks that DOT require KLM—as a member of the Blue Skies Alliance—to divest two slot pairs “at commercially viable times.”

The complaint was filed against the Netherlands government under the International Air Transportation Fair Competitive Practices Act of 1978. 

In response to a query from Aviation Week, ACNL declined to comment. Queries to the Minister van Infrastructuur en Waterstaat, the European Commission and JetBlue were not immediately returned.

Christine Boynton

Christine Boynton covers air transport in the Americas for Aviation Week Network.