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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

KLM criticizes Amsterdam Schiphol Airport’s operator over new capacity limits

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The operator of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport has come under fire from the Dutch airline KLM after the airline’s home hub announced that it will have to further reduce passenger capacity through at least the end of October due to a lack of security staff.

Due to an unexpected staff shortage, Schiphol earlier this week ordered some airlines to cancel flights as lines of travelers began to extend more than a kilometer outside the terminal building as a result of delays in clearing security checkpoints.

In order to avoid severe overcrowding in the terminal, the airport announced on Friday that capacity would be reduced by a further 18% if the shortage was not quickly resolved.

“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.”

The airline’s representative stated that it was still unclear of the extent of the disruption it would experience and that answers might not come for several days.

The Royal Schiphol Group, which operates Amsterdam Airport, chief operating officer Hanne Buis acknowledged 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.”

As a result of the severe disruption caused by the sudden shortage of security screening staff in the Spring and Early Summer, Schiphol had been preparing to progressively raise its capacity cap in September and October.

After being forced to wait in hours-long lines to pass security checkpoints, many of passengers are estimated to have missed flights. Schiphol even agreed to reimburse some customers for the disruption.

However, the compensation plan ended just as issues began to reappear.

The latest problems at Schiphol have been attributed to the third-party security contractors, who have been accused of not providing as many security agents as promised.

In order to attract new hire staff who have been dismissed due to a perception of low pay and poor working conditions, the airport is now urging the security businesses to reach new collective bargaining agreements with employees.

In September, Schiphol will now permit 54,500 locally departing passengers each day; in October, that number will rise to 57,000. In September and October, it was anticipated that the airport would be able to accommodate 67,500 and 69,500 local departures per day, respectively.

The Dutch independent airport slot coordinator will “consult” with airlines to decide how best to achieve the new capacity restriction.

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