Schiphol wants airlines to scrap holiday flights to prevent chaos
On Thursday, Schiphol asked airlines to cancel flights next week and make no new bookings for the period 2 to 8 May to prevent further chaos at the airport. Travel organizations are furious that the airport is putting the May vacation of thousands of Netherlands residents at risk in favor of transfer passengers, De Telegraaf reports.
In its letter to airlines, Schiphol said that it has no short-term solution for the staff shortages that caused long lines at the airport every day this week. The chaos started on Saturday when KLM ground staff went on an unannounced strike. On Wednesday, the airport had to limit access to terminals due to crowds. On Thursday, passengers again waited for hours at the airport because there were not enough staff to handle the baggage and check passports. A Schiphol spokesperson called it an "annoying" and "very exceptional measure" that must be taken to manage the holiday crowds.
Travel organizations are furious. Corendon said it wouldn't deprive customers of their holiday. "We will cancel zero flights," CEO Steven van der Heijden said to De Telegraaf. "Why should Dutch holidaymakers have to bleed for the transfer passengers, who account for almost 70 percent of the traffic at Schiphol?"
Sunweb depends on airlines like Transavia, Vueling, and SunExpress and doesn't know what they will decide to do. But the travel organization is furious. This will cost millions, the company said. "This is an underperformance from Schiphol, and you don't know when it will be over. As a monopolist, you simply cannot do this," Sunweb said.
TUI said that it would "not do anything to impair the comfort and enjoyment of our travelers." Schiphol needs to get its affairs in order, TUI CEO Arjan Kers said to the newspaper. "We have had regular consultations with all parties involved to each take our measures and prepare. Apparently, not everyone did their homework well. These peak times occur every year. Shouldn't they be prepared for them and able to resolve them with concrete actions? Of course, there is the problem of the limited availability of employees. But we all have to contend with that."
Frank Oostdam, CEO of travel agencies' association ANVR, expects that this measure by Schiphol will cause many millions of euros in damages in the sector. Someone will have to pay for those damages, and the ANVR will look to Schiphol and its shareholders - the Dutch government. "This is really too crazy for words. We thought it couldn't get any crazier, but here we are," he said. "It says a lot about the business model of both Schiphol and KLM. The problem started with them on Saturday, so let them solve it. But instead, everything is done to spare the transfer passengers."
KLM said it would talk to Schiphol about how many flights it could cancel. Dario Fucci, the foreman of the KLM works council, rejects the ANVR's accusations. "Schiphol is the problem, not KLM's transfer model. Maintenance of runways during the peak of the holiday season. Who came up with that?"