Netherlands

Schiphol unveils new plan to limit crowds and queues over the summer

Schiphol Airport management have unveiled a new four-step plan that will temporarily alter departure and arrival rules and hopefully limit crowds over the busy summer holidays

Major Dutch airport to cap flights and recruit more workers

Severe staff shortages across various posts at Schiphol have led to chaos at the Netherlands’ biggest airport over the past few weeks. Ongoing disputes over workers’ contracts between unions and KLM, as well as an exodus of employees during the coronavirus pandemic, mean that some travellers have faced queues of up to six hours and severe delays to flights. 

In order to prevent the issues from growing over the hectic summer months, the largest airport in the Netherlands has come up with a new plan that should hopefully allow for better crowd control and shorter queues.

1. Actively recruit more workers and fill current vacancies

The first – and most obvious – stage of Schiphol’s plan involves actively recruiting new employees, specifically security guards. The airport will be hosting a job fair on June 11, and will launch a national recruitment campaign for various jobs, such as baggage handlers and cleaners, in June.

2. Make Schiphol a more attractive employer 

In an effort to ensure these recruitment efforts are successful, management is also planning to make Schiphol Airport a more attractive place to work. Negotiations between the airport and various trade unions are currently underway so that in the future staff members are guaranteed to be “properly rewarded” for the “important work” they do. 

3. Optimise passenger flow in terminals 

In order to avoid travellers having to queue for hours outside of the check-in terminals, the airport is also going to make changes that should optimise the flow of passengers within the terminals. These changes include the introduction of security coaches, who should help travellers go through security checks as quickly as possible, and limiting the amount of hand luggage.

4. Cap the number of flights and manage employee workload

Finally – and perhaps most importantly as far as holidaymakers are concerned – the airport wants to ensure that the number of flights arriving at and departing from Schiphol is manageable for the airport’s current staff members. Earlier this month, management announced the decision to cap the number of flights over the summer, and new rules will be in place between June 1 and August 28 that should ensure fewer flights go via Schiphol.

A major part of this stage of the plan is the introduction of slots for airlines for their flights. Each airline is allotted certain time slots for departing and arriving flights, which they can then choose whether or not to use without the fear of that slot being handed over to another airline. Currently, fear of losing rights to an allotted time slot means some airlines run flights that are mostly empty. This change to the rules could reduce the number of flights over the summer season from 126.000 to 90.000.

Staff shortages and growing passenger numbers at Schiphol

The public holiday on Thursday meant this week Schiphol has once again faced high passenger numbers, meaning many travellers have queued for hours just to make it through security in time for their flight. While the summer holidays don’t kick off until July, airport management expects the coming weeks will remain exceptionally busy. 

“Up to and including the summer, the passenger numbers are comparable to those during the May holiday,” a spokesperson said. Over the May holidays, Schiphol saw passenger numbers that were comparable to pre-pandemic levels

Planning to fly via Schiphol at some point over the next few weeks? Make sure you’re on time – but try not to be too early either: “Coming much too early also makes no sense,” the spokesperson said, explaining that this then leads to huge pile-ups in the departure hall.

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