DALLAS – After a turbulent summer of strikes and flight cancellations, Dick Benschop, president, director, and chief executive of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS), has announced his resignation.
The airport was in the eye of the storm amid the European air travel “Summer of Chaos,” during which travelers were not able to board flights bound for AMS; airlines were instructed to cancel planned services from the Dutch hub, and ground staff went on strike.
Benschop’s retirement comes just days after the most recent issue to affect the airport, in which AMS requested that airlines cancel all flights planned to operate on September 12 between 16:00 and 23:00 local time.
The AMS statement said, “Staffing levels at security are lower than what Schiphol had requested of the security companies. As a result, there is a shortage of security personnel and the number of waiting [queuing] travellers is increasing.”
The airport also stated that it did not anticipate needing to implement these steps once more following weeks of improvement. “Employees in the terminal are doing everything they can to ensure that everyone can travel today but, unfortunately, there is a chance that travellers will miss their flights due to long waiting times.”
A compensation program was launched by the Amsterdam hub last month for travelers who made it to the airport on time between the dates of April 23 and August 11, 2018, but were unable to board their flights because of “an extraordinary waiting time” at security control.
The Dutch airport also disclosed in the same month that it will impose a daily passenger cap for the months of September and October after consulting with airlines.
Comments from Airport Officials
Benschop gave his reason for stepping down, saying, “A lot of attention and criticism has been directed towards the way in which Schiphol is tackling the problems and my responsibility as CEO. On my own initiative, I am giving Schiphol the space to make a new start. I do not want the attention on me as an individual to become an obstacle for Schiphol,” he says.
“The situation at Schiphol and what that means for our travellers and employees is close to my heart. I have done my very best, but we’re not there yet. I hope that things improve soon. I love Schiphol. Managing this company was a great honour.”
Speaking of Benschop’s departure, Jaap Winter, chair of the airport’s supervisory board, declares: “Due to the situation and the ongoing bad news, the supervisory board has had very intensive contact with Schiphol’s management in recent months. All possibilities for improvement were and continue to be discussed.
“Under Dick’s leadership, far-reaching measures were taken to stabilise the situation at Schiphol. Improvements were made during the summer, but this has not been enough. Further intervention in the capacity and management of the security companies is necessary,” he adds.
Featured image: AMS