Dutch airline KLM has hit out at the operator of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport after the airline’s home hub announced that it would further slash passenger capacity through to the end of October at the earliest because of security staff shortages.
Earlier this week, Schiphol ordered some airlines to cancel flights due to the unplanned staff shortfall as lines of passengers started to stretch for more than a kilometre outside the terminal building because of delays in clearing security checkpoints.
On Friday, the airport announced that the shortfall would not be quickly fixed and as a result, capacity would be cut by a further 18 per cent to prevent dangerous overcrowding in the terminal.
“It’s disappointing to ascertain that Schiphol will again be adopting these measures at such short notice,” KLM said in a statement on Friday. “The measures will have far-reaching consequences for our passengers, colleagues and the national and international reputation of Schiphol and therefore KLM.”
A spokesperson for the airline said that it still didn’t know the extent of the disruption it would face and those answers might still be several days away.
Hanne Buis, chief operating officer of the Royal Schiphol Group which runs Amsterdam Airport admitted that the decision was “bad news for passengers and for airlines”.
“I am fully aware of that,” Buis continued. “Nevertheless, the decision taken is necessary with the safety of passengers and employees in mind. Everyone who works at Schiphol doing their utmost to ensure that each and every passenger journey is as pleasant as possible.”
Schiphol had been planning to gradually increase lift its capacity cap in September and October after facing mass disruption in the Spring and early Summer when the lack of security screening staff suddenly became apparent.
Thousands of passengers are estimated to have missed flights after getting stuck in hours-long queues to clear security checkpoints, and Schiphol even agreed to refund some passengers over the chaos.
That compensation scheme, however, closed just as problems started to resurface.
Schiphol has blamed third-party security contractors for its newest woes, accusing the companies of failing to supply as many security officers as they claimed they would.
The airport is now urging the security companies to reach new collective bargaining agreements with employees in order to attract new hire staff who have been put off because of a perception of low wages and poor working conditions.
Schiphol will now allow 54,500 locally departing passengers per day in September and increase that to 57,000 in October. It was originally hoped that the airport could handle 67,500 locally departing passengers per day in September and 69,500 in October.
The Dutch independent airport slot coordinator will “consult” with airlines to decide how best to achieve the new capacity restriction.
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.