iAir quality

Schiphol Group is dedicated to ensuring clean air at and around its airports, and we aim to lead the sector when it comes to reducing NOx and emissions of ultra-fine particles (PM10 and PM2.5). These efforts are important in view of our commitment to safeguarding the health of employees at Schiphol as well as local residents.

Air quality is continually monitored by the government. The province of North-Holland has three air quality meters around the airport. The measurements can be viewed online. The Schiphol site met all governmental requirements for this category in the 2018 operating year. We apply performance indicators that involve input measurements, such as the installation of fixed electrical ground power at aircraft stands and electrification of the vehicle fleet. Performance indicators that involve output are not being measured at present as it is not always possible to distinguish clear causal links between other parties' activities and air quality, and our own.

Schiphol has 225 aircraft stands for passenger aircraft, cargo aircraft and buffer positions. These include 127 fixed aircraft stands and 98 stands without a direct connection to the terminal. In 2018, 73 of Schiphol's fixed aircraft stands were connected to fixed electrical ground power, unchanged from the previous year. With fixed electrical ground power, aircraft do not need to use a generator or the auxiliary engine in their tails during ground handling procedures, thereby reducing NOx emissions.

In 2018, the number of flights handled using fixed electrical ground power rose in absolute terms compared with 2017, while remaining the same in percentage terms (54%). 

Ultra-fine particles

While scientists recognise the potentially serious health effects of ultra-fine particles (UFPs), little is known at present about their specific impact. Furthermore, there is a lack of clarity around how to accurately measure UFP levels, or what constitutes a safe level of exposure for humans.

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) is investigating the health risks to residents in the communities around Schiphol more closely. This follows an earlier exploratory study by the RIVM into risks associated with UFPs around Schiphol, which gave no indication that the mortality rates of local residents are any different from similar parts of the Netherlands. The (then) Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment commissioned a comprehensive health study within the Schiphol region. The RIVM is collaborating with the Amsterdam Municipal Health Service (GGD), the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), Utrecht University, TNO (formerly ECN), and other parties.

The new study, which runs until mid-2021, will identify the UFP exposure of local inhabitants and any associated short-term or long-term health risks. Part of the research will involve pupils at two neighbouring primary schools. A further study involving adult volunteers examines the potential effects on blood pressure of inhaling UFPs over short periods, as well as on the lungs and heart. This part of the research is carried out by the RIVM in collaboration with the pulmonary department of the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam and the University of Southern California (USC). The concentrations of ultra-fine particles on and around the airport site will also be mapped as part of the research programme.

The first measurement results were published in 2017 at www.luchtmeetnet.nl, with further updates made available via the website. Schiphol is giving its full support to these studies in the hope that the research will help advance international understanding of ultra-fine particles and their effects. We are also working on a plan which, regardless of the outcome of the research, aims to improve local air quality. Collaborating with experts as well as our sector and regional partners, in 2019 we intend to deliver a joint action plan aimed at reducing the presence of UFPs at and around the Schiphol site. We are also pursuing a clean mobility strategy for our travellers and employees.

Clean mobility

Schiphol actively promotes clean mobility solutions as part of our efforts to improve air quality at the airport and in surrounding areas. To this end, we maintain close control of our own mobility as well as the mobility of companies working at Schiphol. We have a dual objective: (1) replacing vehicles run on fossil fuels with electric transport, and (2) reducing fuel consumption.


The number of electric buses in operation at and around Schiphol is steadily expanding. Since 2015, 35 electric buses have been operating on the apron, with a total of 15 million passengers transported from the terminal to the aircraft and vice versa over the past three and a half years. The introduction of the buses has directly resulted in 1,743 tonnes of avoided carbon emissions, as well as 2.9 tonnes of avoided NOx output. In spring 2018, 100 VDL Citea electric buses were put into service at and around Schiphol Airport as part of the Amstelland-Meerland public transport concession, representing the largest electric bus fleet in Europe at the time. By 2021 this number will have risen to around 250.


Taxi traffic from the airport is also increasingly electric. Schiphol's official taxi concession holders, the BIOS Group and BBF, have been bringing passengers to Amsterdam and other destinations in the Netherlands in Tesla taxis since 2014. Our regular partners operate a sustainable fleet of 170 electric Tesla taxi cabs as well as 30 biogas-powered taxi vans. Meanwhile, we require other taxis operating from the stand to join the Taxi Control Foundation and to meet certain quality requirements. This additional taxi fleet includes a further 511 zero-emissions vehicles, bringing the total number of electric taxis serving Schiphol to 681.

Ground Support Equipment

Special vehicles known as Ground Support Equipment (GSE) operate on and around the airport aprons. These vehicles, which include cleaning vehicles, catering trucks and aircraft tractors, are used to prepare aircraft for departure or to handle them on arrival. An increasing number are electrically powered, and, since 2015, Schiphol has been helping ground handling companies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels by investing in electric charging stations. Approximately 150 new charging stations were commissioned in 2018, bringing the total to around 400, with a further 150 due for delivery in 2019.

While the growing emergence of electric GSE is a clear sign of progress, the use of diesel-powered GSE will remain unavoidable for the foreseeable future as certain types of equipment are not yet available in electric form. Diesel engine emissions (DEE) are more harmful than emissions from engines powered by other fuels. As such, we are developing a company standard with a view to limiting the negative effects of emissions produced at Schiphol. In 2017, the Diesel Engine Emissions working group issued a set of recommendations, and we will be implementing these over the course of 2019 as part of a dedicated action programme.

Transitioning to electric GPUs for remote aircraft handling

Schiphol Group is investing in electric ground power units (E-GPUs) at many of its airports as part of our wider sustainability and carbon-emission objectives. E-GPUs supply zero emission power to aircraft on the ground, offering an alternative to traditional diesel-based units.

We have designed and tested the equipment in collaboration with ITW GSE and Nissan. Four E-GPUs are currently in use at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and, in time, all of Schiphol's diesel generators will have been replaced. Several of our other airports, including Eindhoven, Rotterdam and Brisbane, have also received their first E-GPUs, with one unit now operating at each airport. These first E-GPUs contain a new battery; in time, E-GPUs will be supplied with recycled batteries that have been used in cars for several years.

E-GPUs are used to supply power to aircraft docking at remote aircraft stands. In this way, they supplement the fixed electrical ground power supply through which aircraft are electrically operated at 73 of the fixed aircraft stands in place at Schiphol. Our investment directly supports the CO2-emission-reduction targets for Dutch airports as outlined in the aviation industry's 'Smart & Sustainable' action plan.


Together we make aviation more sustainable