Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


Europe Adopts Sustainable Aviation Fuel Mandates From 2025

8 months ago

The European Parliament on Wednesday approved the bloc’s sustainable aviation fuel mandates in the push to cut aviation emissions dramatically.

The mandates, which are part of the European Union’s Fit for 55 program to cut carbon emissions, require that 2% of all aviation fuel used in the bloc must be low-emission sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, from 2025. SAF is typically defined as having at least half the lifecycle carbon emissions as standard fossil jet fuels. The sustainable fuel mandate steps up to 6% in 2030, 34% in 2040, and 70% by 2050.

Synthetic fuels, for example those derived from so-called green hydrogen, must make up 1.2% of SAF usage from 2030 and 35% by 2050.

“This is a tremendous step towards the decarbonization of aviation,” European Parliament representative José Ramón Bauzá Díaz said. “It is now time for EU governments to implement the new rules and support the industry to ensure the cost-effective deployment of sustainable aviation fuels across Europe.”

Finnair plane with sustainable aviation fuel

The mandates come amid growing calls from European airlines for financial support to achieve the SAF targets. Production of the low-emission fuels currently represent a fraction of a percent of global aviation fuel demand. Ramping up production can take years as would-be producers source feedstocks and secure the necessary approvals to open processing facilities.

“The EU should do what the United States is doing already [and] incentivize SAF,” KLM CEO Marjan Rintel told Airline Weekly in June.

The U.S., rather than mandate SAF usage, provided producers and distributors tax incentives for the fuels in 2022’s Inflation Reduction Law.

Many, however, believe that a combination of SAF incentives and mandates — the proverbial carrots and sticks — are necessary to both boost production of the fuels and bring costs down to near parity with fossil fuels. SAF typically costs several times more per gallon than conventional jet fuel.

The EU’s new mandates have been in the works for several years. The European Parliament first passed them last year but had to vote on a revised plan after tripartite negotiations with the European Commission and Council of the EU, similar to the reconciliation process between the U.S. House and Senate after they pass two different versions of the same bill.


IDEAS: KLM Unveils New Lightweight Business Class Seats

10 months ago

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has unveiled its new World Business Class Seats for its Boeing 777 aircraft. 

The new seats have been designed in collaboration with JAMCO, who the carrier previously worked with on the ‘Venture’ seats featured on the KLM 787 fleet.

Credit: KLM

The upgraded World Business Class seats will offer direct aisle access to all passengers, with each seat also equipped with a sliding door for enhanced privacy. The new offering will also provide additional features such as a lower back-massage function, adjustable lower-back support, multiple charging options, and the ability to fully recline into a comfortable bed.

Credit: KLM

According to the carrier, the new seats are also 10-15% lighter than comparable business class seats, aligning with KLM’s sustainability goals.

Credit: KLM

“Based on extensive customer and competitor research, we improved our World Business Class seats to ensure that customers have more privacy and comfort during their flight. The new seats are better in terms of design, technology and sustainability features. KLM meets a wide array of its passengers’ wishes with the new seats in World Business Class, Premium Comfort, Economy Comfort and Economy Class. We are delighted to offer these new products and related services to our customers worldwide,” said Boet Kreiken, EVP customer experience, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Credit: KLM

KLM’s entire Boeing 777-300 and 200 fleet are set to be fitted out with the new Business Class seats, with the full revamp to be completed during the course of the coming year.

At Skift, we are looking to unearth the most creative and forward-thinking innovations in travel through our Skift Ideas Franchise, which includes the Skift IDEA Awards, Skift Editorial Hub and the Skift Ideas Podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


KLM Wins Court Battle Against Dutch State Over Schiphol Airport Flight Caps

1 year ago

KLM has won its court case against the Dutch government, which proposed cutting flights at Schiphol Airport from 500,000 a year to 440,000 a year to reduce noise pollution.

The court stated the government did not comply with European rules, which specify a flight cap can only take effect after all measures to limit noise nuisance had been considered.

The District Court of Noord-Holland’s preliminary proceedings were brought by KLM and other airlines, including Delta Air Lines, easyJet, TUI and Corendon.

Air France-KLM CEO Ben Smith earlier this year said any flight cap would also disrupt planning for the arrival of efficient new jets better able to curb emissions. The Franco-Dutch airline group said it had invested heavily in newer planes based on foreseeable capacity at KLM’s hub only to see the goal posts move abruptly.

Dutch businesses and citizens have also campaigned against the limiting of flights to Schiphol, arguing it will simply divert the traffic to other airports, and do little to reduce aviation emissions. Some 84,000 jobs could also be jeopardized if Dutch air travel was weakened, they added.

Schiphol Airport meanwhile plans to axe late-night flights over the next two years.


JetBlue Claims Discrimination in Unsuccessful Effort to Fly to Amsterdam

1 year ago

JetBlue Airways alleges that the Netherlands has violated the terms of the open-skies agreement between the U.S. and European Union after repeatedly denying the airline’s requests to serve Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

Under the agreement, airlines can operate an unlimited number of flights between the U.S. and EU as long as they can secure the necessary airport landing and takeoff rights — known as “slots” — on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. JetBlue, which first launched flights to Europe in 2021, said it has made at least three applications for slots at Schiphol since September, all of which have been denied, to begin two daily flights to Amsterdam — one from Boston and one from New York’s JFK airport — this summer.

“The Dutch government’s conduct violates the [open-skies] agreement and constitutes an ‘unjustifiable or unreasonable discriminatory or anticompetitive practice’ and ‘imposes an unjustifiable or unreasonable restriction’ on JetBlue’s access to U.S.-AMS markets,” JetBlue said in a complaint to the U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday.

The complaint is a highly unusual method to gain international airport access, and one used only as a last resort by an airline.

JetBlue wants to fly an Airbus A321LR, like the one pictured, to Amsterdam. (Adam Moreira/Wikimedia)

JetBlue claimed that its requests, which included seeking unused slots previously used by Aeroflot and bankrupt Flybe, were denied due to the Dutch government’s controversial policy to reduce noise and carbon emissions at Schiphol. This effort would reduce the maximum number of flights allowed at the airport to 440,000 annually from 500,000 currently. The policy has also raised concerns at KLM.

Schiphol also implemented passenger caps this past summer due to understaffing, particularly of security functions. Those caps will end at the end of March.

The DOT will likely begin evaluating JetBlue’s complaint, first determining if it has merit before investigating whether the Netherlands have violated the open-skies agreement. It is unlikely to result in new JetBlue flights to Amsterdam this summer, but could facilitate the airline gaining access to Schiphol in the coming years.


Europe and Southeast Asia Open Skies to Fuel Airline Expansion

2 years ago

The European Union and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have signed a new open skies agreement aimed at recovering and expanding airline links between the two regions.

The agreement is unique as it covers two blocs of countries — the EU has 27 members and ASEAN 10 — rather than two countries or between the EU and, for example, the U.S. The agreement, unveiled Monday, will drop all restrictions on flights between the EU and ASEAN for airlines based in either region. It goes into effect immediately.

“It will support the aviation sector’s recovery after COVID-19 and restore much-needed connectivity,” EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said. She added that the agreement provides a “platform” for the EU and ASEAN to collaborate on “economically, socially and environmentally sustainable aviation.”

The departure board at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport
The departure board at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. (Ronald Yeo/Flickr)

Airlines based in ASEAN, which includes Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, are currently the largest in the market. Singapore Airlines and and Thai Airways flew the most passenger capacity between the blocs this year, according to scheduled data from Diio by Cirium. KLM and Lufthansa are third and fourth, respectively.

The agreement also appears to be a way for the EU to offer its own airlines a leg up in competition with the Gulf carriers, which include Emirates and Qatar Airways that carry large numbers of connecting passengers between the two regions. The bloc described the pact as helping “EU and ASEAN airlines to compete with competitors targeting the lucrative EU-ASEAN market.”

Airline capacity between the EU and ASEAN will be down 28 percent compared to 2019 in the fourth quarter, Diio data show.


KLM Temporarily Halts Flying Travelers to Amsterdam

2 years ago

European airlines have warned once and again that airport staffing, and other issues, threatened to derail what is widely expected to be a busy summer travel season. Those issues have been on display at KLM and Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport two weekends in a row now. The airline said Saturday that it would “no longer allow passengers to board for departure to Amsterdam at European destinations” due to issues at Schiphol for the rest of the day.


The decision to not carry passengers to Amsterdam comes a day after KLM said it would cancel roughly 50 flights a day across its network over the Pentecost holiday weekend, or Whitsun weekend. Monday, June 6, is a holiday in many European countries including the Netherlands.

KLM blamed the move Saturday on “unfavorable weather conditions and runway maintenance at Schiphol” that were forcing the cancellation of many outbound flights. This is on top of security staffing issues that have been blamed for crowding at the airport in recent weeks.

KLM planned to resume flying passengers to Amsterdam from European destinations on Sunday, June 5.


Outgoing KLM CEO Pieter Elbers Lands at IndiGo

2 years ago

Pieter Elbers, who retires from the helm of KLM on July 1, will be Indian airline IndiGo‘s next CEO.

Elbers will replace Ronojoy Dutta at IndiGo when he retires on September 30. Dutta has led the airline, which is India’s largest, since 2019.

“I am delighted to become a part of the next stage of IndiGo’s incredible journey, further fulfilling the vision of what the airline can do and will be for its customers and for India,” Elbers said in a statement.

The head of the Netherlands passenger rail operator NS, Marjan Rintel, replaces Elbers at KLM.