Hundreds of extra security officers needed at Schiphol: CEO

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No image availableNL Times

With terrorist threats, a centennial celebration, strikes and a 9.1 percent increase in passengers, Schiphol airport has a very busy year behind it. And 2017 will be even busier, CEO Jos Nijhuis expects. But the number of Koninklijke Marechaussee officers responsible for safety at the airport did not grow with the busyness of Schiphol. According to Nijhuis, the airport needs between 400 and 500 extra Marechaussee officers, he said to the Financieele Dagblad on Monday.

The Koninklijke Marechaussee is a policing force that works as a branch of the Dutch military and is responsible for border security, including airports, among other things.

"I think the Marechaussee is understaffed. Something really needs to be done", Nijhuis said to the newspaper. Currently there are about 1,800 Marechaussee officers working at Schiphol. "That is about as much as in 2008 and 2009. While both the threat and the number of passengers increased substantially." Nijhuis said. "I am simply worried about it." About 60 million passengers traveled through Schiphol in 2016.

Last year was Schiphol's busiest year yet, and Nijhuis expects that this year will even busier still. And if something happens elsewhere in the Netherlands, workers will be pulled away from the Marechaussee. How are we going to fix this? I am concerned that people think we're fine now because we got through 2016. But we should not overestimate ourselves."

Last year the government made 17 million euros available to deploy 135 additional Marechaussee officers to Schiphol. But that is way too few, according to Nijhuis. Part of that 17 million euros will also be used to train six additional platoons of the Marechaussee's High Risk Security Squadrons. But those squads will only be available around the middle of this year.