KLM stops ticket sales on Amsterdam flights; Schiphol unveils crowd management plan
KLM will temporarily stop the sale of tickets for flights that will depart from Schiphol the upcoming days. The airline announced the measure because of the large crowds at its home base airport, the second-largest in the European Union. The pause on sales regards ticketing on KLM flights until this Sunday.
"We are receiving a lot of questions from customers who have seen the queues for security and who do not dare to leave from Schiphol," said a spokesperson. KLM is currently offering rebooking arrangements to passengers who do not want to deal with the situation.
In recent times, the waiting period for travelers have often been very long at Schiphol. At the beginning of the May vacation period, the lines were triggered by a wildcat strike by ground personnel at KLM. More recently, the issue has been due to a combination of staff shortages at security lanes operated by the airport, the growth in the number of travelers, and labor shortages elsewhere.
As a result, airlines are already canceling flights. Due to the long waiting times at the airport, there have been tense arguments and fights have broken out, which required the intervention of Marechaussee officers.
Earlier in the day, Schiphol presented an action plan to counteract large crowds at the airport during the summer travel period. The plan consists of four points: Recruiting more employees such as security guards, making Schiphol more attractive as a workplace, optimizing the flow of passengers, and making agreements with airlines about flight planning which will result in a reduction in flights.
These measures should be used to manage the expected summer crowds, and nudge the situation in the right direction, the airport said. "It is not the case that travelers will no longer stand in line, but we do promise that we will do everything we can to provide travelers with a predictable and pleasant Schiphol experience," airport CEO Dick Benschop said in a statement. "During the May holiday, we immediately started developing and implementing solutions for the crowds. We are doing this together with all parties that are involved in Schiphol."
On Wednesday, Schiphol already announced that the rules for take-off and landing rights will be changed, as a result of which fewer flights should depart this summer. Schiphol also consulted with the labor unions about reducing the workload for security guards and baggage handlers.
The airport will therefore focus on recruiting more security officers. Various recruitment campaigns are underway, and there will be a job fair at Schiphol on 11 June. In addition, a national marketing campaign is being launched to also attract more candidates for janitorial and baggage handling positions.
Schiphol also said that better remuneration for working at Schiphol is being discussed in consultation with the unions. "All parties feel the urgency to do so." Schiphol expects to be able to present a negotiated deal in the short term.
The airport will also deploy "security coaches" to help travelers pass through security as quickly as possible. Schiphol will also consult with airlines to investigate how the amount of hand luggage can be reduced. In addition, Schiphol is deploying as many extra employees as possible, including office staff and retired colleagues.
Finally, Schiphol wants to ensure that the situation is more predictable, and that the number of flights and travelers does not present a situation which is unmanageable for the available staff at a given moment. This includes improved coordination with airlines regarding the planning and relocation of flights to regional airports.
Reporting by ANP