When it opened 50 years ago Amsterdam Schiphol was years ahead of its rivals in terms of passenger handling.
At that time airbridges, now commonplace, were a rarity at Frankfurt, London Heathrow or Paris Orly/Le Bourget.
At Schiphol, on the other hand, boarding by airbridge was virtually guaranteed for all flights.
Back in 1967 Schiphol was fortunate to start with a clean sheet at a time when facilities at other European airports were a hotchpotch.
However aviation has changed over the decades. Schiphol was designed as a transfer airport to suit home carrier KLM.
The latter carries more of its passengers through, rather than to or from, Amsterdam.
But Schiphol’s growth over the past ten years or so has been in point-to-point rather than transfer traffic. And the airport has not easily adapted to this new trend.
This year the airport has encountered another problem.
There is simply not enough gate space to accommodate some of the new long-haul airlines with their large aircraft, reports Holland’s luchtvaartnieuws.nl.
What it means is that passengers using carriers such as American Airlines, Jet Airways, Norwegian (long-haul) and Singapore Airlines now find themselves being bused some considerable distance to their aircraft which are parked on a remote stand across the A4 motorway.
The vast majority of passengers find bussing at any airport inconvenient and time-consuming as Business Traveller readers will testify.
Luchtvaartnieuws reports that the new system of bussing “has resulted in passenger complaints.”
Said a Schiphol spokesperson, “More and more airlines are flying to Schiphol with larger aircraft. As a result at times we do not have enough space directly for [to board] passengers at the gate. The solution is to take passengers by bus to one of the boarding platforms [remote parking spaces]”
It must be noted that the bussing system is only used for long-haul airlines and for those carriers whose aircraft would normally park on the ground for several hours between flights.
Crucially Schiphol is giving priority to transfer airlines.
Passengers flying with carriers like KLM or partners like US airline Delta (with whom KLM operates a JV) will find no change. Their aircraft will continue to use the regular gates at Schiphol.
It is hoped that the bussing will cease after passenger numbers decline following the busy summer period.