Tuesday 10 December 2019

Schiphol gets back to normal after Wednesday’s fuel breakdown

Hundreds of people were forced to sleep at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Wednesday night after a breakdown at the airport’s main fuel supplier.

Some 180 flights were cancelled and around 200 delayed on one of the busiest days of the year and airlines warned that the problems may persist into Thursday.

‘Because of yesterday’s consequences, we also expect a somewhat disrupted day today,’ the airport said on its website. ‘As a result, travellers can experience delays and possible cancellations. We understand that this situation can be very annoying and inconvenient for travellers.’

A fault in the systems of Aircraft Fuel Supply, which controls the supply of fuel to aircraft, meant that only planes with enough fuel in their tanks were able to take off again while the problem lasted.

The exact cause of the outage is not yet clear. Aircraft Fuel Supply is a joint venture between Air France-KLM and a number of oil companies, including Shell, Esso and Texaco. The company is responsible for both the supply of fuel – some 12 million litres a day – and the underground infrastructure which takes the fuel to the aircraft.

The airport brought in camp beds for passengers who were stranded after their flights were cancelled. According to website Nu.nl, some 1,300 people were forced to sleep at the airport because local hotels were full.

Some 10,000 travellers were affected by the delays and cancellations and many took to social media to express their frustration at the lack of information and the long queues for assistance.

‘We were told our flight was cancelled and then we were just left. We spent the night on a bench,’ one man, due to fly at 17.40 on Wednesday, told broadcaster NOS.

‘I’m furious,’ another man told the NRC. ‘What a mess, chaos. One company for the fuel? Why is there no competition. And then we get everything in Spanish from Vueling.’

Experts in airline damage claims said that the passengers affected by the problems would not be able to claim compensation because the airlines themselves were not at fault.

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