KLM on the hook for half Schiphol seat reductions, says slot coordinator
KLM will have to cut down the maximum number of seats it provides to passengers departing from Schiphol Airport by an average of just under 7,000 every day in July. The decision was made after Airport Coordination Netherlands, the slot coordinator, created a calculation based on the number of flight slots that airlines at the airport normally have.
The companies were informed this past weekend, director Hugo Thomassen told ANP. Earlier on Monday, British airline EasyJet said it was likely going to cut more flights utilizing the Dutch airport, among the largest in the European Union.
Last week, Schiphol Airport said that airplane capacity would have to be reduced by about 13,500 seats per day in July. That is the number of passengers which would stretch airport staff beyond its limit if the commercial aircraft seats were all completely sold out. The restrictions, which are necessary due to staff shortages, concern departing travelers who use security checkpoints. Passengers transferring to other flights were not included.
With about half the number of available slots, KLM is by far the largest user of Schiphol. Airlines are free to choose how they will implement the limitation to the number of seats. For example, ticket sales can be stopped before a plane is fully booked, flights may be combined, or passenger journeys may have to be cancelled. One consideration is the number of tickets which have already been sold.
Thomassen, in his own words, understood from companies that they consider the restrictions a "tough task" and that the restrictions are slightly more drastic than they had expected. Thomassen is now attending a global meeting of slot coordinators in the U.S. city of Seattle where they will be discussing plans for the winter season.
The director also said that companies are looking for fall-back options. Thomassen has recently noticed heightened interest in the airports in Rotterdam and Eindhoven. He expects that the last slots at Rotterdam The Hague Airport will be allotted "within the coming hours or days.” Companies will be awarded those spaces in the order in which they filed their requests. There has been more interest than availability, according to Thomassen.
Airlines KLM, Transavia, and travel organization TUI said they do not yet know exactly what the restrictions will mean for their passengers. They were still in the process of investigating this, and they expect to provide more clarity soon. The reported figures came as a surprise to TUI, as they deviated quite a bit from an indication the company received last week.
Transavia had already decided to sell only a very limited number of tickets for the summer "to avoid as much disappointment as possible." According to a spokesperson, "many solutions are still possible.” This involves, for example, canceling entire flights or introducing a maximum to the number of passengers per aircraft.
Reporting by ANP