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Schiphol Airport Asks Airlines to Cancel Flights Due to Staff Shortages

A KLM A330-300 touching down in Amsterdam (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Fabian Behr)

One of Europe’s busiest airports is set to have further disruption this weekend after an unannounced baggage handlers strike caused chaos last weekend. According to Reuters Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport is seeking to prevent repeat scenes at the airport similar to those experienced on 23 April by asking airlines to manage aircraft movements.

Reuters reports that due to staff shortages Schiphol has “asked airlines to reduce the number of locally departing passengers this weekend by cancelling bookings, and not accepting new bookings from Schiphol in the period from 2 to 8 May.” This period coincides with the early May holiday period in many countries within Europe.

In an email to the news agency, Schiphol stated, “This is an annoying but necessary measure to reduce the number of passengers.” Dutch airline KLM has its hub at the Amsterdam airport and is expected to cancel some flights on Friday. Further information on future cancellations from KLM and other airlines was not immediately forthcoming and passengers were advised to contact their airlines.

The hub nature of KLM’s operation at Schiphol means that there is potential for significant disruptions to passenger journeys. It would be assumed that cancellations will be done strategically leveraging the codeshare and alliance agreements with other carriers operating to and from Schiphol to minimize passenger disruption.

As previously reported in Airline Geeks dozens of flights were cancelled at Schiphol on 23 April when baggage handlers staged the unannounced strike. Saturday’s disruption coincided with the first day of the school holidays and overwhelmed the airport. At midday, on Saturday the airport authorities issued a statement that read: “The terminal is too full at the moment … Schiphol is calling on travellers not to come to the airport anymore.”

Delays around the airport meant that police had to close highway exits to the airport for a brief time according to Reuters. The KLM ground handlers did return to work on Saturday afternoon and though the airport did lift the temporary call for travellers not to head to the airport three hours later, passengers were still subjected to lengthy delays.

In a statement following Saturday’s disruption, KLM said, “The discussions between the management board and the employees concerned addressed topics including staff shortages, mounting work pressure and job retention in the long term. These discussions will of course continue in the coming period.”

Staff shortages resulting in flight cancellations have been a feature of the aviation industry’s post-pandemic restart around the world. Airlines, airports and associated industries have been struggling to recruit to match the upsurge in traveller demand as governments eased or removed travel restrictions with minimal notice.

John Flett


  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John is currently the course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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