Schiphol delays restrictions announcement about upcoming April-May holiday period
Schiphol Airport's final decision about how it will approach the upcoming April and May holiday period was delayed on Thursday. Airport slot coordinator Hugo Thomassen said the airlines raised many questions during their consultations with the airport, specifically about Schiphol's proposal to again limit the number of departing passengers.
The airport wants to set a passenger capacity limit for the period from April through mid-May to prevent excessive crowds there. Due to staff shortages, it is not yet certain whether there will be enough security guards and baggage handlers available to work at the airport in the immediate future. Schiphol said earlier this week that it intended to make an announcement on Wednesday or Thursday.
But the tone somewhat changed already. "It will probably be after the weekend," a spokesperson said. He emphasized that Schiphol wants to handle everything "properly and carefully."
Schiphol's proposal is basically intended to create a "safety margin" with 5 percent fewer passengers. The margin should mainly apply to the morning hours, which are often peak times for Schiphol. This means that several thousand fewer people would be allowed to depart from the airport every day. Airlines would have to sell fewer seats by either combining flights, limiting sales on flights, moving flights or regional airports, or cancelling trips..
Thomassen, who was also present at the consultation with the airlines, said he expects clarity from Schiphol early next week. He explained that the related businesses and baggage handlers have been given the opportunity to respond to Schiphol's proposal. BARIN, the association of airlines operating in the Netherlands, could not be reached for comment.
Behind the scenes, Thomassen said he has already started preparing the calculation of exactly what Schiphol's new intervention would mean for each airline. He expects to be able to hand over the final allocation within a few days of Schiphol's decision. The airlines will then have to decide whether to cancel flights or, fly with aircraft that have not been fully sold.
Many in the travel sector do not think the damage will be too bad. Frank Oostdam, who heads up the travel agent association ANVR, said on Tuesday that the "reasonably minimal reduction" did not sound "as dramatic as it was last year." According to Oostdam, holidaymakers do not have to worry in any case, because travel organizations will certainly not be obliged to cancel booked holidays.
Last year, Schiphol's intervention was much fiercer. Security staff shortages meant an inability to cope with the large crowds as people returned to traveling after the coronavirus pandemic. There were often long queues passengers waiting for hours, sometimes stretching outside the departure hall.
Reporting by ANP