KLM, travel groups fed up with Schiphol's problems; "Big bonus" will attract staff, says union
KLM and the trade association for travel organizations ANVR are sick and tired of the troubles at Schiphol and the damage they are causing to the sector. Schiphol has to get its affairs in order quickly, said Marja Rintel, CEO of KLM, the largest airline at the airport. Trade union FNV thinks again giving staff a temporary “big bonus” can help to quickly reduce the staff shortages at Schiphol.
Schiphol announced on Thursday that it had not yet solved the personnel problems at its security department. The airport again asked airlines to reduce the number of passengers, this time throughout the winter months.
The damage to KLM as a result of Schiphol’s problems has risen to 100 million euros, Rintel said to BNR. The chaos is also affecting the staff. The problem for KLM is that Schiphol has a monopoly position. “It is just not possible to fly the planes from elsewhere,” a spokesperson said. That leaves KLM with no option other than putting pressure on Schiphol and its shareholders, including the Dutch state.
For Rintel, enough is enough. She demanded that Schiphol take control. For example, security companies are not allowed to hire people who don’t speak the Dutch language but can speak English. That kind of restriction must be removed, she said. “Make your pond bigger,” she suggested. “Travelers also need to know where they stand.”
ANVR is furious by the new capacity restrictions. “There is no prospect for improvement, and the consequences are dramatic,” said director Frank Oostdam. He called it another heavy blow for the travel industry. “The winter sports period is a really big season for us. Together with the aviation industry, we’ve been dealt a serious blow.”
Oostdam also pointed out that the government has a responsibility to intervene. “It cannot be that the restrictions last until April and the government does not take action.” April is a year since the chaos started at Schiphol. The first day with the massive, hours-long lines, abandoned luggage, and travelers missing flights en masse was 23 April 2022. According to Oostdam, the Cabinet should deploy the army to compensate for the shortage of security personnel at Schiphol.
Both KLM and ANVR are working on damage claims against Schiphol.
FNV thinks another “big bonus” could help reduce the staff shortages at Schiphol. According to the trade union, many security guards and baggage handlers left the airport after the temporary summer bonus expired. As a result, the staff shortages at the airport have increased again.
Joost van Doesburg, FNV campaign manager at Schiphol, acknowledged that the new capacity restrictions are “painful.” But, according to him, it is also “inevitable and much needed.” It alleviates Schiphol employees’ workload to some extent and prevents the staff from being further “eroded.” He points out that otherwise, even more people would want to leave Schiphol because they can not keep up with the workload.
The summer bonus, which temporarily increased security guards’ wages by almost 50 percent, enabled Schiphol to attract extra people in the summer. But many of them left again when the bonus expired in September, said Van Doesburg. “If a security guard wants a job outside Schiphol, they get it in no time. There is so much demand. They can start somewhere the next day at 9:00. And that is work behind a counter, for example, or in a control room where the work pressure is much lower.”
The union does not have precise figures, but Van Doesburg estimates that Schiphol needs hundreds of workers. Another temporary bonus would not solve that, he stressed. But a bonus could help bring in more people quickly.
According to Van Doesburg, Schiphol must also ensure that the security and handling companies at the airport recruit enough people in the long term. That involves improving working conditions and rosters. The schedules are now so chaotic that there are as many as 20 different start times in one day. As far as FNV is concerned, only once that problem has really been solved can Schiphol let go of the restrictions on the number of passengers.
Reporting by ANP