KLM to cancel hundreds of flights from now through August 28
Until August 28, KLM will cancel between 10 and 20 return flights to European destinations daily, the Dutch airline announced on Friday. That amounts to a maximum of 2,080 canceled flights over the next eight weeks. These cancellations are in addition to previously canceled flights.
“Work pressure at the airport is currently relentless as Schiphol and KLM are both faced with staff shortages. KLM’s measures are intended to restore operational stability, thereby relieving pressure on staff at Schiphol and KLM,” the airline said.
It’s a strong shift away from an announcement the Dutch airline made just two weeks ago when KLM stated that most ticketed passengers would not face itinerary changes due to the situation at the airport. At the time, it said only a limited number of cancellations would occur through the holiday period.
KLM will inform affected passengers ”in a timely manner” and rebook them on a different flight. “In most cases, this flight will depart on the same day or as close as possible to the original booking. Passengers do not have to contact KLM, but will be informed by KLM or their travel agent.”
KLM will also “strongly restrict” the sale of remaining seats on KLM and KLM Cityhopper flights to European destinations to free up space for customers who must be rebooked because their flight got canceled. It will also stop booking and loading cargo onto KLM Cityhopper flights and close the belly compartment for loose packages and mailbags on intercontinental flights. This should reduce work pressure for handling staff on the ground.
“KLM is confident that these measures will ensure the smooth handling of incoming and outgoing flights in the coming weeks,” the airline said, stressing that these measures are temporary.
KLM has also been at odds with the unions representing its ground crews, with workers having become increasingly concerned about workload and airport safety. A survey by the FNV labor union found that 95 percent of its members were worried about the high workload, 83 percent were facing increased pressure due to absenteeism, and 73 percent were unnerved by potential safety risks at Schiphol.
“The results show that the measures announced by Schiphol have not yet sufficiently allayed employees' concerns,” union representative Joost van Doesburg said to Luchtvaartnieuws.
Late last month, it also emerged that some workers in the various unions were considering another wildcat strike if work pressure was not sufficiently reduced by early July. Ground workers previously walked off the job on April 23 in a brief strike which was not organized by their union. That labor action resulted in hours-long lines at KLM check-in desks, and flights delayed because workers were unable or unwilling to load baggage, or tow aircraft to the gates.
It took days for the airline to sort out the impact of the strike.