Schiphol CEO criticized for being absent during chaotic times at the airport
Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop is facing increasing criticism for being absent at the airport during some of the most chaotic days in recent weeks. He's been absent for eleven days during the past weeks, including a holiday to Portugal, De Telegraaf reports based on documents and information from several sources.
Chaos broke out at Schiphol airport on April 23, the first weekend of the May vacation, and has persisted ever since. De Telegraaf noticed that Benschop was absent on many of the most chaotic days.
On King's Day, for example, when the airport had to limit access to a terminal due to the crowds, Benschop was spotted celebrating the King's birthday with his family on a boat in the Westerborekpark in The Hague. That is extra remarkable because Benschop later said he was absent from Schiphol during this period due to a Covid-19 infection.
Since April 23, the Schiphol CEO also went to Portugal for a holiday, attended a gala evening in Washington, went to the World Economic Forum in Davos, and attended the annual meeting of the employers' association VNO-NCW, according to the newspaper.
And in the meantime, the crowds - caused by staff shortages in Schiphol's security and baggage handling - have not diminished. This week alone, the airport faced massive queues, passengers missing flights, and even incidents of aggression. The fire department handed out cookies and juice to people waiting in line because some were fainting from spending too much time on their feet.
"I think he has a lot to explain, especially to the staff," NH Nieuws' aviation journalist Doron Sajet said on Goedemorgen Nederland on NPO1. "He does not make a good turn by saying: 'I couldn't be there when it got out of hand,' and then he was on a boat, or he went to Portugal." She doubts that this will cost Benschop his job. "But it will become a lot more difficult for him to explain and complete the new term he is entering."
Benschop himself also said that he does not intend to resign. Instead, he is motivated to fix the problems, he said in an interview with ANP. On Thursday, Schiphol presented an action plan to prevent crowds and long queues during the summer period.
Friday is expected to be a "busy day" for departures and a "peak day" for arrivals at Schiphol. By 10:00 a.m., Schiphol reported 30 canceled and 70 delayed departures and 29 canceled and 54 delayed arrivals.