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Schipol: fights and chaos at the airport that does not want ‘so many’ passengers

European airports compete with each other by measuring the number of passengers they handle per year. In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, the European leader was Londoner from Heathrow (80.8 million), followed by Parisian Charles de Gaulle (76.1 million). In third position appeared the Dutchman from Schiphol with 71.6 million. But Schiphol can not be more.

Its main airline, the Dutch KLM, announced this Thursday suspension of ticket sales of flights departing from Schiphol in the coming days. There will be no more tickets at least until Monday. The airplanes they are not full.

The problem is at the airport. Schiphol is unable to manage right now the number of passengers it managed before the pandemic despite the fact that its infrastructures are the same. The reason? Lack of staff.

KLM posted Thursday on its website that “unfortunately, the queues at the security checkpoints areare much older than usualwhich has a strong impact on waiting time” from when a person arrives at the airport until they can board their plane.

The Dutch KLM announced this Thursday the suspension of ticket sales. Photo: EFE

The airline admits that many passengers they are missing their flights for the hours they need to pass the controls and wants to leave empty seats in the coming days for these people.

It is a short-term solution to a problem that has been growing since the end of the health restrictions against covid-19. The number of passengers is constantly growing while the number of airport employees can’t recover pre-pandemic levels.


The long hours of waiting generate frustration and nerves and the “Koninklije Marechausse” (the military police responsible for airport security) had to intervene several times to break up fights between passengers and passengers with security checkpoint staff.

The Dutch media say that some passengers would have boarded, taking advantage of the chaos, without going through the mandatory security controls. Other airlines suspended their flights while the airport management company unsuccessfully requested the intervention of the Ministry of Defense.

Schiphol on Thursday presented a plan to deal with a crisis that may cause it to lose weight among European airports. A few hundred kilometers away you have those of Brussels, Dortmund, Dusseldorf or Cologne-Bonn, in addition to regional airports (Maastricht, Eindhoven, Weeze) already used by low-cost airlines such as Ryanair.

The plan, which should be in place before the summer holidays begin and Schiphol sees passenger arrivals increase even more, consists of hire more service staffbaggage handling and greatly increase the number of security personnel to open more control lines of passengers.

KLM planes leave without all their passage.  People miss flights because of the controls.  Photo: Reuters

KLM planes leave without all their passage. People miss flights because of the controls. Photo: Reuters

In addition, the airport will change the management of takeoffs and landings so that there are fewer flights this summer and will divert part of its flights to Rotterdam and other smaller airports. The airlines have their slots at Schiphol. The company asks them to voluntarily exchange them for slots at other airports or it will be forced to cancel flights.

Schiphol’s plan to attract more staff is based, he promises, on offering jobs with more attractive conditions thus recognizing that if it did not recover the number of pre-pandemic employees it was not because it did not want to hire but because There are not enough candidates to fill the positions offered.

Most of the staff at Schiphol does not report directly to the airport but to subsidiary companieswhich are responsible, for example, for baggage management or security controls.

If in normal pre-pandemic times the airport had approximately 5,000 jobsright now it cannot reach 4,500, but the lack of personnel is concentrated in lowest paid jobs. There is hundreds of job offers on the airport website.

The Schiphol problem can be extended. At the beginning of May, the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ reported that between the two main airports in Paris (Charles de Gaulle and Orly) there was an hole of 4,000 employees that the management company, ADP, could not cover.

During the pandemic, Parisian airports got rid of 1,150 employees through an ERE. Now they want to hire but they can’t find it. lack of everything: security agents, maintenance technicians and even engineers. The unions assure that after dismissing personnel with 20 or 30 years of experience, the companies now intend to hire paying the minimum wage.

Brussels, special for Clarín


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