The two Dutch airports have inked a strategic partnership, thus ending a tiring debate about the options to either close or continue running Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST). According to the deal, the Schiphol Group will purchase a 40% stake in Maastricht for 4.2 million euros. The agreement paves the way for a single airport system in the Netherlands. It is in line with the Dutch government’s aviation policy and that of the Province of Limburg, where the 1944-founded airport is located.
While Amsterdam is reducing the total number of flights by 60,000 annually, capping air traffic at 440,000 movements beginning winter schedule 2023, Holland's most important air traffic hub is
securing important slot capacity practically next door - by liaising with 213 km distant Maastricht Airport. Given the scarce slot capacity at AMS, Maastricht offers airlines abundant traffic
options. This is particularly interesting for cargo carriers since MST, which is open from 6 a.m. to midnight, is already the second largest airport in terms of freight throughput in the
Cargo is an important business factor at MST
This aspect was emphasized by Schiphol and Maastricht executives during the signing of their partnership agreement. “The handling of cargo is an important part of the collaboration between MST and AMS. Air freight makes an important contribution to the Dutch freight sector and the regional economy of the province of Limburg,” reads a joint press statement.
MST’s future was unclear until 03JUN22. On that day, the Provincial Council of Limburg Province opted in favor of keeping the airport open, provided a convincing and robust business case giving substance to eight different points was presented by the Committee of Regional Ministers before the end of this year. A key condition was a change in the governance structure, with Limburg Province no longer being the sole shareholder of MST. The other conditions listed in the consent of 03JUN22 are to be decided on in the coming weeks, followed by the submission of the agreement to the Provincial Council for getting the final go-ahead. Deadline for this is 16DEC22.
Schiphol as knight in shining armor
So, no surprise that Limburg Province representative, Stephan Satijn, welcomed the agreement with Amsterdam Schiphol, since it ends a period of uncertainty for the place and the employees. “We see Royal Schiphol Group as a professional partner that can help build the transition from MST to a sustainable and future-proof airport, which also contributes to the economy of Limburg and the national economy,” the politician stated, following the signing of the pact.
However, market observers have voiced this criticism: The cooperation between the two Dutch airports generates very little synergies. Their pact mainly satisfies political interests. Because closing Maastricht would have put pressure on the government, presumably causing The Hague a lot of trouble.
Single airport system
Understandably, however, there was nothing of this kind to be heard at the signing ceremony. Instead, praise and approval prevailed.
Robert Carsouw, CFO Royal Schiphol Group commented: “Our contribution to society is to connect the Netherlands with the rest of the world. Regional airports are an important element in this strategy. The idea that airports in the Netherlands form a single system, as expressed in the Dutch aviation policy, is very appealing to us. By collaborating intensively and investing in Maastricht Aachen Airport, we can share knowledge and expertise and make optimal use of the scarce capacity available in the Netherlands.”
His words were echoed by Jos Roeven, CEO of MST: "We are very pleased that, in Schiphol, we have found the right strategic partner to invest in our ambition to make MST an innovative and sustainable airport that is well embedded in its region.”
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