Dutch airline KLM reacted with dismay after Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport said passenger numbers during the peak summer holidays would have to be slashed by around 13,500 seats per day because of a shortage of security staff that has been causing havoc since Easter.
In an effort to avoid dangerous overcrowding in the terminals, Schiphol has told airlines that it will artificially cap the number of passengers allowed to pass through the airport. The measures are set to remain in force until the end of August.
A spokesperson for Schiphol airport said unless capacity was proactively slashed, passengers would simply end up missing their flights because of delays at security screening checkpoints.
“Not intervening would mean unmanageable queues and many travellers would miss their flight. That would lead to unsafe situations for both travellers and staff,” the airport said on Thursday.
“A lot is possible at Schiphol this summer, but not everything,” commented airport chief executive Dick Benschop. “Setting a limit now means that the large majority of travellers will be able to travel from Schiphol in a safe and responsible way.”
The capacity cap means that airlines may have to fly planes with empty seats or axe services altogether.
KLM said on Thursday that it was supportive of measures to make the scenes of chaos that have blighted Schiphol in recent weeks a thing of the past but that artificial capacity caps were “highly detrimental”.
The airline said it would begrudgingly cooperate with the capacity cap because i was “important to give passengers clarity as swiftly as possible”.
With Schiphol struggling to recruit new security screening staff, the airport says the maximum number of passengers it can cope with next month will be capped at 67,500. In August, the airport hopes to have more security staff online and will increase its capacity to 72,500 passengers per day.
On average, the number of available seats will need to be reduced by 13,500 per day. KLM remains optimistic, however, that existing bookings will not have to be cancelled on “a major scale”.
Two weeks ago, KLM was forced to fly planes back to Amsterdam empty from European destinations because bad weather and emergency runway repairs meant the airport was already at capacity and couldn’t deal with any more passengers.
Airports across Europe have warned of the potential for disruption throughout the summer season. Problems are concentrated at security screening checkpoints, as well as at immigration border crossing points.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.