AFP, published on Friday, April 29, 2022 at 23:25.
Dutch airline KLM announced on Friday the cancellation of dozens of flights to and from Amsterdam Schiphol this weekend, following an appeal by the airport to airlines asking them to reduce the number of passengers in order to limit the large influx into the airport.
“Schiphol made the exceptional request in part in the context of passenger and employee safety,” said the airport, which faces staff shortages due to large crowds during this school holiday period.
The airlines “complied” with the request, the airport said in a statement, with the aim of reducing the number of passengers by 3,500 on Saturday. This number would be “almost achieved”.
KLM has so far canceled 47 flights (return and one way) for Saturday and Sunday. 28 return flights were canceled on Friday.
At least one airline has also flown some flights to nearby and less crowded Rotterdam Hague Airport
The request, however, was deemed “outrageous” by the International Airline Trade Association (IATA).
“Passengers book flights weeks or months in advance,” IATA told the Dutch news agency ANP. “Some of them will have to cancel their holiday plans.”
“As TUI, we want to think, but we are definitely not going to cancel flights,” a group spokesman told Het Financiele Dagblad.
KLM, for its part, explained that the cancellations were intended to satisfy Schiphol’s request that “the airport procedures be kept manageable due to a lack of staff there”.
“On the other hand, these cancellations in KLM’s flight schedule are helping to reduce the workload,” KLM said in a statement.
Schiphol, Europe’s busiest airport since 2019 – with more than 70 million passengers that year – has seen its numbers plummet during the pandemic.
But after the Netherlands lifted most of the restrictions on the Covid-19 in mid-March, passenger numbers continued to rise.
– Chaos –
Last Saturday, the first day of the school holidays for many young Dutch people and as travelers expected to peak, KLM baggage handlers also went on strike to protest staff shortages and long working days.
The chaos was such at Schiphol last Saturday that the airport was forced to warn travelers not to go there and close a motorway exit.
The action had led to the cancellation of the departure and arrival of many flights and caused a “very unpleasant start” during this holiday season, KLM mourned.
According to Het Financiele Dagblad, Schiphol does not have 500 guards out of a total of 5,000. There is also a high percentage of absences among employees.
The cost of travel delays and cancellations must be borne by Schiphol, several organizations have ruled.
Further discussions need to take place between the airlines and the airport.