Crowds already building at Schiphol for holiday weekend
People traveling through Schiphol this holiday weekend can again expect crowds and long queues at the airport. Schiphol is struggling with staff shortages, specifically in baggage handling and security. That, combined with an increased desire to travel after the coronavirus pandemic, has resulted in almost constant chaos at the airport since the May holidays.
As of 10:20 a.m. on Wednesday, Schiphol reported about 100 departures facing short delays and 14 canceled departures. Thirteen arrivals were canceled, and about 95 were delayed. Photos and videos on social media already showed queues stretching even outside the airport. One traveler tweeted that it took them 1.5 hours to get through security. "Had expected worse."
Security line at Schiphol now. The line is outside the building because the building is not long enough for the line pic.twitter.com/QkmAk1yIRh— Amalia Arvaniti (@AmaliaArvaniti) May 25, 2022
Thursday is Ascension Day, and many Netherlands residents have both Thursday and Friday off. Schiphol expected Wednesday and Thursday to be "peak days" for departures and "busy days" for arrivals. Friday will be a "peak day" for arrivals, the airport said.
These past days were already extremely crowded at the airport. On Sunday, the Koninklijke Marechaussee had to intervene in a "threatening situation" at the security checkpoint when travelers waiting in line for hours saw security guards leave for staff change. On Monday, there were no "significant incidents" at the airport, but thousands of travelers spent hours in line. A few even fainted after spending so much time on their feet.
The main cause of the delays is staff shortages, and with the tightness on the Dutch labor market, it seems unlikely to be solved in the short term. A Schiphol spokesperson told NL Times that the crowds would continue through the summer holidays.
Trade union FNV demanded that Schiphol come up with a solution to lower the work pressure on employees by June 1, or there would be strikes during the summer holidays. The union wants the airport to adapt the amount of work to the number of workers available - don't sell more plane tickets than the available workers can handle.
KLM CEO Pieter Elbers stressed that FNV's threatened strike would not help solve the problems at the airport. "There are two reasons to strike: to make a problem visible or to force a solution," Elbers said to ANP. "I don't know who wants to trike where, but we are all aware of the problem and are discussing a solution."
ANVR, the association for travel agencies, suggested that the government deploy the army to help out at Schiphol. But there is not a big chance that Defense will grant such a request. The military is only used in situations where commercial parties can't help, and Defense is struggling with its own staff shortages.
Various travel agencies have noticed that their customers are trying to avoid Schiphol, opting for flights from regional airports or even airports in Belgium and Germany.