46th Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Enlargement, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean", August 30th - September 3rd, 2006, Volos, Greece
Schiphol Amsterdam, the main airport of the Netherlands, is a dynamic node, where the space of places and space of flows meet. The days that Schiphol was just an airport are long gone. This makes it a complex entity. The different governments concerned with the future development of Schiphol appear to be indecisive and lack adequate knowledge needed to understand the dynamics of the airport, as a result of which the planning process is insufficient. It seems that reality and the administrative situation do not fit anymore. Spatial supply and demand differ enormously. Schiphol and the national government both conceptualize the airport by calling it a mainport, but both define the same concept differently. The mainport concept was formed in the mid-eighties, when the Dutch economy was in a period of recession. Two economic motors were appointed: the Rotterdam Harbour and Schiphol Airport. Now after almost twenty years Schiphol evolved enormously while the mainport concept used by the government hardly changed. How is this possible? In this paper I will describe the forming of the mainport concept and the evolution of Schiphol. After assessment of this evolution and the concept, which is done by a combination of in depth interviews, a comprehensive literature study and the analysis of the operative policy documents, I conclude with a problem inventory. I argue that this inventory can help us understand why the mainport concept and Schiphol differ today and why reality and the administrative situation do not fit anymore. In this way, the problem inventory will provide a good basic framework in order to find a solution and make sure that in the recent future reality and the administrative situation will be one again.