I recently flew into Schiphol and experienced a very long taxi time (about 20 minutes) from landing to pulling into the pier at the terminal. Given that the flight was only 90 minutes from closing air plane doors to opening air plane doors. I feel that over 20% of flight time is a little excessive for taxiing at the destination airport.

I landed in the early evening. Around 19:30 local time with KLM.

Looking at a map I think I landed at Polderbaan runway as we crossed a main highway. Possibly the A5.

Schiphol Map

My question is: Why does Schiphol build a runway so remote when there is clearly available land nearer to the main airport terminal? And should this runway be used by short haul flights. Should it not be kept for long haul as it is the widest and longest runway at Schiphol?

  • $\begingroup$ Such long taxi stretches are very common at Schiphol, even with KLM. I myself experienced it. $\endgroup$
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ Oops! Maybe operational reasons then. $\endgroup$
    – pnuts
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ Taxi time in Schiphol is often very long, always has been since I use the airport. It happens for short-haul flights, for long-haul flights, for low-cost flights, for KLM, for non-native airlines, it does not matter. But I don't think the question is a good one, it just invites speculation about policy decisions rather than a specific travel-related question. $\endgroup$
    – Relaxed
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ The airlines at AMS have no say about which runway they're assigned for a flight. So they can't elect to avoid one or the other. If they could, all of them would elect to use 06-24 always, as it has the shortest taxi times. Taxi times to the 01R-36L can be as long as half an hour, depending on whether the 01C-36C is in use or not (if it isn't, it can be crossed at the halfway point, leading to a reduction in taxi time). $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 7:58
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    $\begingroup$ The last time I flew into Schiphol the captain got on the PA after landing to announce 'Welcome to the Netherlands. We will now be continuing our journey to Schiphol airport by road' $\endgroup$
    – Rob
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 8:20

3 Answers 3


Schiphol indeed seems to have enough space to build a runway close to the terminal. However it is more the lack of airspace and laws preventing excessive sound levels that made it necessary to create the "polderbaan". It is also one of the two primary runways for nightflights (link in Dutch (sorry). Found a reference in the English wikipedia:

Newest runway, opened 2003. Located to reduce the noise impact on the surrounding population; aircraft have a lengthy 15-minute taxi to and from the Terminal.

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    $\begingroup$ This. Schiphol is in the middle of a very urban area, they have to spread out the flights. One day we'll be able to taxi to other airports, I think... $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ the map also doesn't tell the entire story. There's a drainage canal running in the area, and if I remember correctly some buildings (old farms) with monument status as well. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 7:55

In addition to the noise issue mentioned in andra's answer, the Polderbaan (36L/18R,) Zwanenburgbaan (36C/18C,) and Aalsmeerbaan (36R/18L) runways are parallel. For parallel runways to be used simultaneously (especially if they can all be used for simultaneous arrivals or all used for simultaneous departures,) then there must be a minimum amount of separation between them in order to maintain the required horizontal separation between the air traffic. This may also be part of why the 36L/18R runway is so far away horizontally. An additional factor in the taxi time is that traffic going to or from the 36L/18R runway must taxi around the 36C/18C runway if it is being actively used for an arrival or departure.

As far as runways being 'reserved,' most airports don't reserve particular runways for long-haul flights. They may be given preference on a particular runway if it's needed, but that's unlikely to often be the case here, as all three of the parallel runways at Schiphol are sufficiently long for almost any passenger aircraft (they're all over 10,000 ft.)[1] In cases of parallel runways that are all sufficiently long, arrival runways are usually assigned more on a basis of which direction the traffic is arriving from than anything else. Which part of the airport the traffic will be taxiing to and how long of a line there is for each runway also may factor into the decision.

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    $\begingroup$ The required separation for parallel operations is much less than the distance to the Polderbaan: it's a couple of hundred meters, at most, whereas the Polderbaan is two kilometers from the next runway. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ @David uecna.eu/spip.php?page=article&id_article=16 The separation between parallel runways in independant mode is 1,035m. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 7:43
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby the actual distance is worse than the mere separation because of the roundabout taxiways that have to curve around other runways, parallel a major highway, and weave around a drainage canal and some farms. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby, That's only true if one is being used for arrivals and the other for departures (for instance, within each pair of runways at ATL.) As SentryRaven pointed out, the separation requirements are much larger when the runways are being used for parallel arrivals or parallel departures. It gets even more tricky when you have 3 (or more) parallel runways that are all being used for simultaneous arrivals or all being used for simultaneous departures. I'm not sure if Schiphol ever does that, though. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Nov 5, 2014 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ @reirab never seen them use more than 2 of them at a time. The main purpose of building it was noise abatement, allowing the eventual (planned) closing of one other runway that can't be used effectively due to noise regulations (which have become so strict over the years that a few years ago it took a direct order from the ministry of transportation, temporarilly lifting the limits, overruling local city council imposed restrictions, to keep the airport open for the last 2 weeks of the year, they'd literally run out of allowed departures and arrivals). $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 14:46

Moving the runway further away gives Schiphol the chance to build an extra set of terminals which could connect to the main road. Also, land in Holland is expensive and noise pollution rules are strict, so it was best to build anything new in the middle of a field (an aerial view will show this).

  • $\begingroup$ Thats one way of ensuring you have space for expansion. If you don't build there someone will. $\endgroup$
    – Anilv
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 7:24

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