Amsterdam Schiphol airport’s connectivity has been mentioned many times in these pages – it has a network of 317 direct destinations, and provides roughly 120 flights per day to and from 28 UK locations.

Almost 7.5 million UK passengers travel through the hub every year – accounting for 15 per cent of its annual capacity (51 million in 2012) – most of whom are transiting to intercontinental cities.

In 2013, Schiphol was awarded the title of Best European Airport in the reader-voted Business Traveller Awards for the 24th year running. Its popularity is largely down to its single terminal – a one-of-a-kind feature among international airports that contributes to ease of connection for those in transit.

And despite Schiphol’s steadily increasing capacity, it intends to stay this way.

“We know the one-terminal concept is our USP, and we will keep it,” says Maarten de Groof, executive vice-president and chief commercial officer for Schiphol Group.

“There have been ideas proposed to develop new terminal areas but we have decided that our main development will be in a south-westerly direction. This will be adjacent to the current terminal complex, and will be connected [to it].” Schiphol’s plans for growth also include the addition of a new pier to the south of the terminal for eight aircraft, which is in the process of being finalised and is set to be unveiled “in the near future”.

Despite the airport’s success, there is room for improvement. DavidGordon10, a poster on our online forum (, wrote: “The
non-Schengen part operates with at-gate security. This is terrible for short-haul flights boarding at short notice. London-bound flights are often delayed because there is not enough time for the passengers to get through.”

This frustration has been noted, and a central screening facility is being introduced. De Groof says: “It will be a big improvement for those arriving from and departing non-Schengen destinations. The security checks at the gates will disappear and we will go to five central security filters. Three will be in the departure hall and two will be for transferring passengers – Schengen to non-Schengen and vice versa.”

The new area will be built in stages alongside the day-to-day running of the airport, and will open by mid-2015.

Another issue that UK passengers experience when transiting is lengthy taxiing times. The ten-year-old, 3.8km Polderbaan is the newest of Schiphol’s five main runways and extends so far away from the main terminal that its other end is almost in a different town.

Forum poster dutchyankee writes: “When landing on the Polderbaan, which is almost a given when flying from the UK in the evening, the taxi to the gate takes 25 minutes, which is simply absurd.” As azidane, another contributor, puts it: “Sometimes you seem to spend as long taxiing to the terminal as it took to fly there from London.”

De Groof says: “The reasons for [the long taxiing times] are environmental – primarily noise reduction. We have an agreement about route usage and have to limit the noise from each aircraft as much as possible, so we use the runways that cause the least noise, of which Polderbaan is one.”

Good news for UK flyers is the planned revamp of Lounge Two in the heart of the non-Schengen area – the largest of Schiphol’s public departure lounges, and the waiting area for flights to the UK. The last of the airport’s four departure facilities to be renovated, it will be completed in 2015.

“It will be a major overhaul of the look and feel,” De Groof says. “There will be new retail, food, beverage and relaxation facilities around specific themes – the lounge will have separate ‘worlds’ for those travelling with families and for businesspeople who want to transfer as fast as possible and possibly get some work done.”

Schiphol’s oldest hotel, the Hilton Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (opened in 1972), is going to be replaced. Scheduled for a 2015 opening, a new futuristic cube-shaped Hilton is being built alongside the existing property with 433 guestrooms, 23 meeting rooms and a covered walkway to the terminal. When the new hotel opens, the older one will be demolished.

What else is in store? When it comes to accommodating new-generation aircraft, Schiphol is ready and waiting. The Dutch hub became the first European airport to be equipped to receive A380s in 2003 (following the opening of the Polderbaan runway), yet it wasn’t until August 2012 that Emirates became the first carrier to deploy a superjumbo on its Schiphol route.

Being the fourth-largest European hub airport in terms of passenger capacity (after London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt), it makes sense that airlines would choose to deploy their wide-bodied aircraft on point-to-point routes with the highest volume, so Schiphol may be less of a priority.

KLM has not ordered any superjumbos, and De Groof was unable to confirm whether any other carriers had plans to start flying their A380s to Schiphol. As for connectivity, Schiphol remains focused on the UK, which is reflected in the strategy of its national carrier.

Warner Rootliep, general manager for KLM UK and Ireland, says: “We currently offer a choice of 16 departure points in the UK – in April 2013, we began a new route from Manston that remains the only air link from Kent internationally.”

How about Schiphol’s long-haul prospects? In February 2014, KLM will serve Santiago de Chile, which will be its ninth destination in Central and South America. In addition, the Dutch national carrier has increased its flights to Bangkok from seven weekly flights to ten for its winter schedule, and will up the frequency of its recently launched route to the Japanese city of Fukuoka from thrice-weekly to four flights per week in March.

In response to the proposed launch of a direct Eurostar route from London to Schiphol in 2016, De Groof says: “Good accessibility over land is crucial to an airport like Schiphol. There may be a little competition [with London to Schiphol flights], but it will mean increased connections to Schiphol from London.”

The new Eurostar link may also attract Brits to Schiphol as a method of escaping air passenger duty. Still, with a journey time of about four hours, it remains to be seen whether APD-dodging Londoners will favour getting the train to Schiphol over taking the two-hour 15-minute Eurostar service to Paris Gare du Nord and exiting Europe from Charles de Gaulle. (Transferring to CDG adds another 30 minutes.)

The good news for Schiphol is that it can rely on its connectivity to the UK regions to keep its feeder air traffic at a buoyant level – something that Britain’s own hub airport cannot attest to.