Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport will continue to “drastically” slash passenger numbers over the next six months as it struggles to recruit enough security staff and other essential frontline workers that are needed to keep up with travel demand.
Dutch flag carrier KLM once again slammed the beleaguered airport operator for creating what it called a “hopeless situation” after the airline was asked to artificially reduce passenger capacity by up to 22 per cent for the entire winter season which runs from October to April 2023.
Passengers travelling through the major European hub have face chaos since April when pandemic travel restrictions were first lifted and demand bounced back. Schiphol had failed to rehire staff who had been sacked during the pandemic, but the airport promised to turn the situation around quickly.
Instead, throughout the summer passengers have found themselves queueing for more than 1.5 kilometres outside the terminal building just to reach a security checkpoint. On occasion, the queues have stretched far beyond temporary marques erected to contain the snaking lines of disgruntled passengers.
Thankfully, those chaotic scenes appeared to be getting better as the summer wore on, helped mainly by Schiphol’s decision to artificially cap passenger numbers while extra staff were hired.
But earlier this month the mayhem returned with vengeance. Schiphol ordered local airlines to scrap flights to prevent dangerous overcrowding in the terminal. The finger of blame was pointed at contracted security companies who had failed to hire enough staff to keep up with demand.
Tentative hopes of increasing capacity closer to pre-pandemic levels have now been scrapped – a decision that Schiphol admits airlines are “not happy about”.
“Keeping to a maximum number of travellers is vital,” commented Schiphol’s embattled chief operating officer Hanne Buis. “We want to ensure the safety of employees and travellers, in addition to providing a more reliable airport process,” Buis continued.
“This obviously affects travellers and airlines, which we of course consider very unfortunate.”
KLM’s chief executive Marjan Rinte could hardly contain her anger saying the airport had “demanded too much for too long”. The airline estimates that it has already incurred damages of more than 100 million Euros as a result of the mayhem at Schiphol.
Despite raising inflation and a cost of living crisis that is gripping the whole of Europe, the airline sector continues to see strong demand over the winter season and will be hoping to reap the benefits of that demand while it lasts.
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.