Monday 23 May 2022

Schiphol staffing problems can’t be solved overnight: minister

Sunday’s queue to enter the airport. Photo: Molly Quell

The problems at Schiphol airport cannot be solved overnight because staffing issues are affecting far more sectors than just aviation, infrastructure minister Mark Harbers has told RTL Nieuws.

The minister’s comments followed a second weekend of long waits and cancellations at the airport because of a shortage of ground crew and surge in passenger numbers due to the May holiday break.

The situation at the airport is ‘very irritating’ for travellers, Harbers said, adding that ‘the shortage of staff is a wider problem than the airport and one which cannot be solved just like that’.

‘It is right that Schiphol is talking to airlines about reducing the pressure in the coming weeks and for the summer holidays,’ he said. ‘I am keeping a finger on the pulse’.

Dutch News journalist Molly Quell said it took her 2 hours 40 minutes to get through security, after starting to queue outside the terminal building. ‘This is, without a doubt, the longest it had ever taken me to get to the gate at Schiphol, non-EU flights included,’ she said.

Airlines and travel organisations have slammed the airport authority for failing to tackle the problem and for asking them to cancel flights to reduce pressure on the airport’s facilities.

Holidays

Iata, the international airline organisation, pointed out that airlines pay fees to be able to use the airport’s services.

‘We do not support Schiphol’s request to cancel the bookings made by local departure passengers,’ Iata said in a letter to the airport authority. ‘Passengers book flights weeks or months in advance. Some will have to cancel their holiday plans. This is not just about a ticket, it is about an entire trip.’

There is also mounting criticism of the lack of public comment by Schiphol’s directors and this was particularly the case during last week’s wildcat strike by baggage operators, the Telegraaf said.

More delays

Schiphol has said it expects long waits for travellers again this week, but not to have to ask airlines and tour operators to cancel flights.

Meanwhile, the FNV trade union has praised the work of staff over the past few weeks and says it is extremely concerned about the coming summer break.

‘There are limits to what you can do with the current staffing levels,’ spokesman David van de Geer said.

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl

The DutchNews.nl team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments.

DutchNews.nl has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.