Capacity cuts at Amsterdam Schiphol will continue into 2023, with the airport stating it had made the decision “to provide travellers a reliable travel experience, and predictability and stability for airlines”.
Schiphol began placing limits on the number of passengers departing the airport this summer – due to a shortfall of security employees – and in August announced that the measures would be extended through to October.
In a statement released on Thursday the airport said that it now expected a cap to continue until the end of March 2023, although it added that “There will be a time towards the end of the year when we will look at whether more might be possible from the end of January”.
Schiphol said that the move had been made “after consulting with airlines, which are not happy about it”.
In its own statement Dutch flag carrier KLM said that it was “simply unacceptable” that airlines were being asked to implement reductions of up to 22 per cent for the winter season, having previously been required to reduce passengers numbers by 18 per cent over the summer period.
The airline described the cap as “a hopeless situation, lacking any perspective”, and warned that it was “damaging our reputation among passengers who are keen and willing to travel after the extended Covid crisis”.
“The situation at Schiphol has demanded too much for too long from our customers and our colleagues,” said KLM president and CEO Marjan Rintel.
“KLM previously stated that the restriction of passenger numbers is not a long-term solution, but that seems to be where we are now headed. Schiphol’s newly announced restrictions for the winter season offer no perspective whatsoever.”
But Hanne Buis, COO at Royal Schiphol Group, said that “Keeping to a maximum number of travellers is vital”.
“We want to ensure the safety of employees and travellers, in addition to providing a more reliable airport process,” said Buis.
“This obviously affects travellers and airlines, which we of course consider very unfortunate. Together with the security companies and unions, we are working hard on making structural improvements – a daunting task in a very tight labour market.
“It’s something to be realistic about. That’s why it will only become clear later this year whether more is possible after January.”
This week it was reported that KLM had imposed a temporary surcharge of €250 on some flights departing from Amsterdam Schiphol “in a bid to mitigate congestion at the airport by stifling demand” – although an update confirmed that the surcharge has since been removed “after an internal review”.
In its latest statement the carrier said:
“Due to Schiphol’s new winter measures, KLM has no other choice but to further restrict ticket sales. This will hopefully ensure that we can minimise further cancellations for customers and, at the same time, remain within the boundaries Schiphol has set to ensure operational safety at the airport.”
KLM also warned that Schiphol’s service standards “have been sub-standard for too long”, adding that this was “in stark contrast with the rising operational costs for the use of Schiphol, with increases of up to 37 per cent in the coming years”.
For its part the airport said that it was working with unions and security companies “on structural solutions to the staff shortage”, with efforts including “better rosters, improved rest rooms and better wages for security company employees”.