Schiphol to force airlines to limit departing passenger totals in April & May: Report
Schiphol will force airlines to limit the total number of departing passengers until after the May holiday, despite interim CEO Ruud Sondag saying a month ago that there would be no capacity limits on the spring holidays. The airport is cutting about 5,000 departing passengers a day due to staff shortages throughout the system, “well-informed sources” and Kees Boef, the director of Corporate Affairs at Schiphol, told De Telegraaf.
Schiphol will implement the “extra safety margin of 5 percent” in the first week of April. That means 5,000 fewer passengers can depart per day than in the ideal situation. The May school holidays start everywhere in the Netherlands on April 29 and end on May 7. The restrictions should end on May 14, according to the newspaper’s sources.
The airport hopes to only implement that 5 percent fewer passenger limit during the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. for the majority of that period, the Telegraaf wrote. Those are usually by far the busiest hours at Schiphol. So the measure will likely still cut thousands of departing passengers per day.
Schiphol will officially announce its plans for the spring on Wednesday after consultations with the airlines. But according to the Telegraaf’s sources, the deal is as good as done. “The proposal can still be adjusted slightly. But I do not expect significant changes,” Boef also confirmed.
According to Boef, Schiphol needs to reduce the number of travelers passing through it because there is too little margin within the airport’s entire system. If anything goes wrong at security, baggage and passenger handling, the Koninklijke Marechaussee, or any other link, it can cause a snowball effect leading to chaos. Schiphol is trying to prevent that with its 5 percent buffer, Boef said.
That means that roughly 70,000 passengers can depart from the airport daily - much less than planned, especially during the May holidays. “At the same time, we are coming up from 40,000. So we are going in the right direction. But we are doing this in phases and without overloading the system,” Boef said.
Last May holiday was the start of a long period of chaos at Schiphol. Staff shortages in security and baggage handling resulted in passengers queueing for hours, many flights canceled, thousands of suitcases left behind, and far-reaching measures - including cuts to passenger numbers - that jeopardized Schiphol’s image.
Only a month ago, Schiphol’s interim CEO Ruud Sondag said that there would be no restrictions over the spring holidays. Sondag said the airport had things in order and was prepared for a trouble-free May holiday.
He did have a small reservation. The airport was still worried about the 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. window on peak travel days. It was working with airlines, baggage handlers, and other parties to “organize those peak moments in such a way that travelers do not experience long queues.” He was hoping for voluntary agreements to spread out passengers more but said that mandatory restrictions could return in the worst-case scenario.
Two weeks ago, Sondag already had to backtrack a bit, raising concerns about staff shortages at handling companies. But the Telegraaf’s sources said that the planned capacity reduction is also due to still existing staff shortages in security.