Army won't help out at Schiphol yet
For the time being, the army will not assist at Schiphol as parliamentarian Wybren van Haga and the association for travel agencies ANVR requested. Defense only steps in if the security region asks for it. Such a request has not been made, and if it does come, "the chance will not be very great that Defense will grant this request," a spokesperson said.
In principle, the army is not used for tasks that ordinary companies could perform, said the Ministry of Defense. "Only when all commercial options have been exhausted, and there is a question of a vital social interest, will Defense consider what is possible." It is also questionable whether Defense has the necessary equipment and workforce available. "Certainly because Defense itself also struggles with vacancies."
ANVR director Frank Oostdam told RTL Nieuws that the Cabinet should consider temporarily deploying the armed forces "to get through this rough period." Schiphol is struggling with significant staff shortages. Security checks and baggage handling are happening at a snail's pace, resulting in travelers spending hours waiting in line and delayed and canceled flights.
Oostdam acknowledged that it was not easy to deploy the army, but according to him, more needs to be done to solve the problems. "Think about bonuses for employees who want to work temporarily. Anything to make the crowds manageable." Oostdam has no illusions and does not think the problems will be solved before the summer. That is also due to larger than expected holiday crowds at travel organizations. For example, the number of bookings for holidays in the Mediterranean is now higher than in the peak year 2019.
The ANVR considers it especially important that travel agencies can earn a living again after two years of "dull misery" due to the coronavirus crisis. Oostdam is also surprised by the rapid recovery. According to him, this is also due to vouchers airlines handed out when flights were first canceled in the pandemic. These are now being used.
Parliamentarian Wybren van Haga said that Schiphol airport, "which is of national importance to our country, is being driven into hell by mismanagement." Defense could "lend a hand" to solve the problems and prevent economic damage.
The chaos at Schiphol is so bad that travel agencies notice their customers trying to avoid the airport, De Telegraaf reports. "For a month and a half, I have noticed a much greater demand for travel from regional airports, but also Brussels, Weeze, and other German airports," Coby van Dongen, director of De Jong Intra Vakanties, said to the newspaper. Corendon also said it noticed a clear move to other airports.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times