Schiphol: 30% passenger drop from US Travel ban, cancelled China flights

Schiphol Amsterdam
Schiphol Airport. Jul 16, 2015Photo: Boarding2Now/DepositPhotos

Due to measures taken regarding the coronavirus Covid-19, including travel restrictions and flights to affected areas like Italy and China being canceled, passenger numbers at Schiphol airport dropped by 20 percent in the first week of March. If all flights to the United States are canceled too, the decline in passenger numbers will shoot to 30 percent, Schiphol said in a statement. 

"We have a responsibility for the Netherlands to keep Schiphol running and to stay connected to the rest of the world," Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop said. "Schiphol is part of the vital infrastructure. We are keeping a close eye on developments and breathe with the situation."

Schiphol is working with airlines, the government and other partners to prepare for further developments regarding the coronavirus. One scenario is running Schiphol on a smaller scale. But whatever will be done, will be done "responsibly, with a lot of attention on travelers and employees," Benschop said.

United States President Donald Trump announced an entry ban for all passenger flights from 26 European countries, including the Netherlands, from Friday. KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers expects that these cancellations will hit the Dutch airline even harder than not flying to China. 

The travel restrictions and a decrease in passengers is putting financial pressure on the Dutch airline. The trade unions will be meeting with the KLM management on Monday. "I assume the KLM management will intervene," Reineir Castelein, chairman of union De Unie, said to De Telegraaf. "In the short term, staff could take unpaid leave, I am also thinking of encouraging part-time work."

"The management can request a reduction in working hours. If liquidity problems arise in the long term, the government should act as guarantor," Michiel Wallad of union CNV said to the newspaper.

Minister Wopke Hoekstra of Finance said on Friday that the government is looking into what additional measures are needed to absorb the financial consequences of the coronavirus, NOS reports. There will also be new measures from the Cabinet affecting aviation sector, Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure added.