Staffing shortages are reportedly now so bad at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport that Icelandair is flying in its own baggage handlers as passengers so that they can then help local staff in the Netherlands turn the aircraft around as fast as possible.
Icelandair is sending two baggage handlers from its base in Reykjavik on its two daily flights to Amsterdam. The staffers fly to Schiphol as passengers but on arrival, they start helping to unload and load baggage.
Ásdís Ýr Pétursdóttir, Icelandair’s information officer told local media that the airline started to send baggage handlers to Amsterdam as a trial to see whether it would speed up the ‘turnaround’ process. Early results have been encouraging.
“We have also been sending people ourselves out to smooth over the bag problems that have come up. Since last Friday, we have added two bag handlers to our crew to Amsterdam to speed things up and keep planes on time,” Pétursdóttir told RUV.
“We will have to see how it develops and whether we carry this on, and even maybe to other destinations. As I say, we are trying to find ways to reduce the effects of these delays and minimise disruption to the journeys of our passengers.”
Like a number of airports across Europe, staffing shortages have been plaguing operations at Amsterdam Schiphol for several months and problems are set to cause headaches all summer long.
Amsterdam is struggling in two main areas – security staff and ground operations teams. Passengers have been forced to wait for hours to get through security checkpoints and in recent weeks, hundreds have missed their flights as a result of the delays.
Passengers have also been urged to bring as little luggage with them as possible because the risk of bags not making it onto flights is just so high.
The situation has become so bad that Schiphol imposed a daily limit on the number of passengers that were able to depart from the airport. Next month, Schiphol hopes to increase the cap to 73,000 passengers per day.
On Tuesday, London’s Heathrow Airport ordered a similar passenger cap and demanded airlines stop selling tickets for the rest of the summer in order to ease pressure on the airport.
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.