Schiphol to close info desks; 60 jobs at stake: report

Empty self-service transfer counter at Schiphol
Empty self-service transfer counter at SchipholPhoto: Zachary Newmark / NL Times

Schiphol is closing the information desks at the airport next year, resulting in a group of 60 desk staff losing their jobs. The employees were informed about this by Schiphol's operations director Miriam Hoekstra on Thursday evening, the airport confirmed to the Telegraaf.

The desks will close in phases starting in April next year. Schiphol plans to deploy new communication channels. "Schiphol's customer research shows that travelers want to make more use of online channels and chat to get information", an airport spokesperson said to the newspaper. 

The affected employees are shocked that they will be losing their jobs. "Schiphol says the desks are no longer needed due to digitization. There are always people at the desk. Only in winter it sometimes happens that there is nobody for five minutes", one employee said to the newspaper.

They are worried that their places will be partially filled by volunteers. Schiphol has a team of former employees who like to be active at the airport for a few hours. "These people get a lunch, a Christmas package and travel expenses and are off the street in this way. Very nice, but actually they are crazy, because they take real jobs", the employee said.

Schiphol denied this to the newspaper. "The work of information will be taken over next year by a 24 hours availability on WhatsApp and chat, self-service points in the terminal and personal assistance on call. The mobile personal assistants and the employees who man the digital channel are paid employees." The airport will look for other functions for the affected information desk workers, who are employed by subcontractor Vebego.

Trade union FNV still has to be officially informed about this move. "We understand that the employees will be replaced by an information column. However, speaking to a column is not so nice, while travelers do have a need for that. The human factor can not be eliminated in all cases. This will cause a considerable discussion", FNV director Leen van der List said to the Telegraaf. "Although technology can not be stop, as an employer you have an obligation to help the duped employees to another job. We will hold Schiphol and Vebego to that."