Amsterdam Airport Schiphol will limit passenger numbers in September and October after struggling to recruit security staff.
The decision – which comes just days after the resignation of Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop – follows a summer of travel chaos and flight cancellations at the airport.
Schiphol will reduce the maximum number of departing passengers by approximately 9,250 passengers, or 18%, per day.
The new daily cap will be 54,500 passengers per day in September and 57,000 per day in October.
“This decision is above all bad news for passengers and for airlines,” admitted Hanne Buis, COO of Royal Schiphol Group.
“Nevertheless, the decision taken is necessary taking into account the safety of passengers and employees.”
Why does Schiphol Airport restrict flights?
The new restrictions are imposed to deal with a shortage of security guards.
In July and August, employees received an additional allowance of €5.25 per hour. Now that the bonus period is over, staff are quitting en masse, says union representative Joost van Doesburg, representative of the Dutch Confederation of Trade Unions.
“A lot of staff came specifically for this allowance,” he said last week as the airport grappled with gigantic queues.
“The summer allowance therefore helped to deal with the problems of the summer but did not help to problems at Schiphol permanently disappear.”
This latest exodus compounds existing staffing problems. Airlines and airports have cut jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult to quickly recover to serve the new wave of travellers.
Will my flight from Schiphol be cancelled?
Restricting the number of passengers will force some airlines to to cancel flights.
Dutch national airline KLM called the decision “disappointing”.
“The measures will have considerable consequences for our passengers, our colleagues and the national and international reputation of Schiphol and therefore of KLM.”
Airlines will communicate with passengers individually.
Previously, Schiphol urged passengers whose flights were canceled or missed to seek compensation.
Usually airlines, not airports, are responsible for compensation. However, the Dutch airport introduced the policy earlier this year after passengers faced mammoth delays.
Schiphol said the cap’s impact would be clear within two weeks.
How bad were the queues at Schiphol?
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport was again hit by long queues last week, with more than 80 flights canceled on Monday.
The lines stretched for hundreds of meters outside the terminal gates, as the beleaguered airport asked several airlines to cancel flights.
In addition to cancellations – intended to ease stress at the terminal – around 650 flights were delayed.
Schiphol Airport blamed the chaos on a lack of security personnel at the airport.
Schiphol awarded the long queues security personnel issues.
“Security manpower today is lower than what Schiphol had requested from security companies,” an airport spokesman said.
“As a result, there is a shortage of security personnel and the number of waiting travelers is increasing, especially in departures 3.”
“Unfortunately, there is a chance that travelers miss their flight due to the long wait times,” they added.
The airport apologized for the situation and the “disappointment” it would cause.
It was cold comfort to thousands of frustrated travellers, many of whom took to social media to vent their anger over the long delays.
“Many thanks to Schiphol for waiting 4.5 hours in those queues, only to find out that our flight was canceled due to chaos“, wrote a user.
“The chaos at Schiphol is the worst I’ve seen in over 40 years flying“said another.
Others described waiting up to five hours on the tarmac to allow stranded passengers time to board.
“Dozens of missed connections at the other end. Disgrace is the right word,” one woman said.
Many airlines urge their passengers not to arrive more than four hours before their flight, to avoid putting undue pressure on the airport.
However, some passengers who heeded this advice described missing their flights – and advised others to arrive at least five hours before their scheduled takeoff.
In a statement last week, airport CEO Dick Benschop said he hoped his resignation would give the airport a “fresh start”.
“I did my best, but we’re not there yet. Hope it gets better soon,” he wrote.
“I don’t want the attention on me to become an obstacle for Schiphol.”