Schiphol pays out for flights missed during chaos; Passenger limit may soon be lifted
Schiphol launched a compensation scheme for travelers who missed their flights due to the massively long queues at the airport’s security checks over the summer. The airport has made some progress in addressing staff shortages and hopes to avoid limits to passenger numbers after October, Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop said.
Travelers who missed their flight at the airport between April 23 and August 11 because they were stuck in line can apply for compensation for the costs they incurred as a result, the airport announced with its half-year figures on Friday. Affected travelers have until September 30 to submit a request for compensation. Schiphol will assess the requests and compensate the eligible ones. The airport expects to be able to absorb the financial costs of such compensation.
Compared to the first half of 2021, when coronavirus-related travel restrictions were still widespread, Schiphol saw traveler numbers skyrocket by 324 percent to 23.8 million in the first six months of this year. That increase, combined with the super tight Dutch labor market, resulted in Schiphol not having enough employees to handle the passenger flows. The airport, therefore, limited the number of passengers who could use the airport.
But after taking various steps to address the staff shortages, Schiphol's CEO hopes to scrap the limits on passenger numbers after October. "That analysis still has to be made. But we want to go in the direction where it will not be necessary." But if it is needed, "we will do it," Benschop said. "Because it contributes significantly to the quality of the travel experience." According to the CEO, the airport is well on its way to regaining reliability and predictability, "and we want to maintain that.”
With the current restrictions on the number of travelers, which will last until October, the airport is trying to overcome the long lines at check-in counters and security checkpoints, and baggage handling problems.
To guarantee security, the airport's capacity was adapted to the number of guards available. The airport said it has searched "every nook and cranny of the labor market" for new staff. From August, two hundred extra security guards began working there. The intention is that they will work more hours. In addition, another 300 security guards are to be added. The airport is still looking for them, according to the airport’s financial director, Robert Carsouw.
In August, the long lines at the airport appeared to be largely under control, with some exceptions. During most parts of the day, the waiting time at security fell below half an hour, according to Benschop. He added that there are days when lines do not stretch outside or to the tented areas set up beyond the terminals. “So we see a clear improvement there."
Still, things have not always gone well. For example, the waiting times on Saturday, 20 August, rose to more than two and a half hours, with some passengers saying they needed to wait as many as four hours in line.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times