Airport in the North Sea a rational but probably infeasible option for Schiphol Amsterdam

The dilemma for Schiphol Airport Amsterdam is the following:

1. To maintain its position as a main port, an airport for intercontinental traffic serving as a 'hub' for further travel and distribution of goods in Europe, the number of flight movements per year should be above certain threshold.

2. To keep the environmental effects, in particular, noise but also air pollution, within acceptable limits the number of flight movements should be kept below certain level.

The minimum number of flight movements as required by market conditions to maintain a position as main port has steadily increased over the past decades. At the same time the maximum number of flight movements in view of noise hindrance and air pollution as demanded by environmentalists remained at more or less the same level. As a result, the 'walk out' values for this constraint as required on one hand by the airport Schiphol (and KLM) and on the other by the environmental pressure groups have moved into a very small range (in the order of 600 000 flight movements per year). In open design terminology: the solution space has become extremely small.

On a longer term, this dilemma could be resolved by the North Sea Island option, i.e. moving the take-off and landing of airplanes to an artificial island in the North Sea which is connected by a train shuttle to the present Schiphol airport. From there, inland transport of passengers and distribution of goods takes place. Transfer passengers remain on the island. Obviously, for the North Sea Island option the number of flight movements per year is no longer the overriding critical constraint, but other factors come into play which may or may not turn out to be critical:

1. Investment, I; the option could simply become too expensive for financing parties, e.g., the government.

2. Time, t, passengers would have to spend in the shuttle; to remain competitive, delay due to travelling to and from the island has to be kept below a market-dictated ceiling;

3. Distance, d, between the island and the shoreline; to avoid hindrance, particularly noise, to coastal residential areas, the island cannot be located too close to the shore;

4. Flight movements, f, per year; this number must be large enough, not only to comply with the minimum required for any main port, but also in view of economic feasibility (economies of scale).

Let us make an open design simulation with only these four constraints. Of course, when it comes to implementation, a model with hundreds constraints would have to be made and also the parameters (coefficients in the inequalities) would have to be established with far greater precision than the extremely rough estimates made here.

The following LP model can be formulated, arbitrarily choosing investment I as the variable to be optimised:

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