Must aviation grow to maintain our prosperity? A critical analysis of often cited arguments

In the public debate on aviation, economic arguments play a major role. Various parties assume certain relationships between aviation, airport capacity and destination network, on the one hand, and economic growth, economic prosperity and the appeal of the Netherlands as a business location, on the other. In this connection The Netherlands Society for Nature and Environment asked CE Delft to assess the scientific merits of the following often cited arguments:

  1. “The vast network of destinations from Schiphol Airport is a major contributor to the appeal of the Netherlands as a business location.”
  2. “Capacity restrictions at Schiphol would mean the end of the airport as an aviation hub and the collapse of the network.”
  3. “Aviation is a major contributor to the Dutch economy in terms of employment and share in GDP.”
  4. “An aviation tax would damage the sector and have no environmental benefits.”
  5. “If the Dutch aviation sector can no longer grow, other, less sustainable aviation-oriented countries will do so.”

With reference to the scientific literature and empirical data, each of these arguments is analysed. Conclusions are then drawn and the question addressed whether a standstill in Schiphol’s capacity or a small decrease would cause economic damage to the aviation sector.


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