Travel agencies preparing damage claims over Schiphol refueling problems

Travelers waiting or their luggage at Schiphol
Travelers waiting or their luggage at SchipholkruwtDepositPhotosDeposit Photos

Tour operators and travel agencies plan to claim the damages they suffered due to refueling problems at Schiphol on Wednesday back from the airport. The disruption led to hundreds of flights being canceled or delayed, affecting tens of thousands of travelers. "It involves a lot of money", Frank Oostdam of trade association ANVR said to NOS.

"In the last few days, travel organizations worked overtime to get travelers away or to rebook them. A lot of time was invested in it, which costs money. And if vacationers could only leave a day or two later, the tour operator must pay back those days. That can accumulate, considering the tens of thousands of people who were at Schiphol", Oostdam said. The disruption may have cost the organizations millions of euros, according to NOS.

Due to a system problem at Aircraft Fuel Supply, a third party company that controls aircraft fuel supply, planes at Schiphol could not be refueled between 1:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. By the time the problem was resolved, over 250 flights had been canceled, and some 450 delayed for hours. On Thursday a total of 100 flights were canceled by various airlines, Schiphol said.

The question is who is responsible for the damages this disruption caused. According to Schiphol, the fault lay with Aircraft Fuel Supply, and not the airport itself. 

Barin, the umbrella organization for airlines, is also investigating possible damage claims. "We're first investigating the extent of the damage, what the most efficient way is for submitting a claim, and to which party", Frank Allard of Barin said to RTL Nieuws. 

The travel organizations are also critical of how Schiphol communicated during the disruption. With all the "modern means" at its disposal, Schiphol's information provision really should have been better, Oostdam said to NOS. "Travel organizations were also not told anything. If you are a call center employee, then you did not have nice days."