Minister Harbers: Schiphol personnel problems cannot be solved just like that

The ministry is “monitoring the situation”, and is in contact with Schiphol, the minister said. “It is good that Schiphol is entering into discussions with airlines to look for solutions to manage crowds for the coming weeks and for the summer holidays. I am keeping my fingers crossed.”

The problems at the airport are caused by too few people at work to handle the passenger flow. The airport therefore tried to ensure that 5,800 people would fly less this Sunday, but failed. Meanwhile, the airlines are annoyed that the airport cannot handle the flow of passengers. Trade association IATA called the problems scandalous.

Member of Parliament Wybren van Haga is also upset about the problems at the airport. Schiphol could have expected the crowds, but reacts apathetically and asks travel organizations to cancel bookings this weekend and not even take any new bookings for next week at all.

Van Haga calls Schiphol director Dick Benschop lame, and believes that he should go “with pitch and feathers”. In addition, Harbers should reverse the increase in the so-called airport charges that airlines have to pay to be allowed to fly to Schiphol this year.

terrible stories
VVD MP Daniel Koerhuis has taken a look at the airport, according to a tweet he sent on Sunday. There he said he spoke to Dutch people who were standing in line and were afraid that they would miss their holiday. “Heard terrible stories,” he says.

He does not explain that the airport in Lelystad has not yet been put into use, while the airport is ready. According to him, that airport could relieve Schiphol by taking over holidaymakers.

Independent MP Pieter Omtzigt does not agree with that reasoning. The airport in Flevoland can only handle a fraction of the number of passengers at Schiphol and would also have the same personnel problems as Schiphol, notes Omtzigt. “On Labor Day, May 1, you might think about the fact that there are people who take the suitcases out of the planes for the minimum wage.” According to Omtzigt, they can hardly make ends meet.

The trade union FNV is holding on for next summer because of the crowds at Schiphol. “This is only the May holiday”, emphasizes FNV director David van de Geer. He believes that Schiphol should have intervened much earlier. “There are limits to what you can handle with the current workforce.”

Van de Geer points to the enormous workload at baggage handling. That is physically very hard work, he says. “And only one plane has to be delayed and you are always behind the facts. That means that you have to work continuously under time pressure and cannot catch your breath.”

The trade unionist calls it an “Olympic achievement” what the staff at Schiphol showed this weekend. “That does not only apply to baggage handling, but also, for example, to the employees at the check-in desks and the security guards at security.” As many as 70,000 departing passengers are expected on Sunday and they all have to go through the security gates.

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