The aviation industry won't be back to normal before 2024, says Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop
“The vaccines are really on the way, we will notice that in aviation from the second quarter of 2021. But that does not mean that everything is immediately back to the old way. The economy has taken a huge blow. I do not expect that we will be back to the normal level before 2024, 2025.” This was stated by the CEO of Schiphol, Dick Benschop, in an interview with Het Parool.
The government support for KLM, which accounts for half of the traffic at Schiphol, is a boost, says Benschop. “It is nice to see that the Netherlands is helping KLM, that is crucial. We all form one system, airlines, handlers, companies.” The coronavirus has forced the airport company, which also operates the airports in Eindhoven, Rotterdam, and Lelystad, to cut costs. Hundreds of people have lost their jobs, as well as six of the twenty directors. “Painful,” says Benschop.
But the virus also offers a second chance to Schiphol airport. “The downturn gives us a number of years for controlled recovery, with less inconvenience and convincing steps in terms of sustainability. This will significantly reduce the load on Schiphol, while social and economic revenues will increase. In this way, we also create space in the noise zones for much-needed housing construction: Aalsmeer, Amstelveen, and Amsterdam,” says Benschop.
Recently, a survey commissioned by the cabinet showed that half of the people in the Netherlands favor a decline in aviation. Four years ago, this was only 14 percent. “That is a signal that things have to be done differently,” admits Benschop. “Growth has become a hugely charged word that scares people. But if we improve the balance between nuisance and prosperity, then growth, moderate growth, means something completely different. A majority can certainly be found for that. Everyone was able to see this year what the consequences would be if aviation collapsed. Not only for the economy and society but also for individuals.”