Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport asks airlines to cancel flights to avoid chaos

Airlines have been urged to cancel journeys this weekend and accept no new bookings for next week

Travellers wait at check-in at Schiphol Airport during strikes last weekend. AFP
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Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has asked airlines to cancel flights this weekend in a bid to avoid the chaos which blighted the airport last weekend.

Problems caused by staff shortages were exacerbated when baggage handlers walked out in strike action on April 23.

This led to dozens of flight cancellations and major delays for passengers and the airport became overcrowded.

Thousands of people were left waiting, and others were told not to drive to the airport.

Some passengers were stranded in Amsterdam for days as they waited for a flight.

Schiphol, which was Europe's busiest airport last year, announced on Thursday that it had requested flight cancellations over the weekend due to a shortage of staff.

It also said airlines had been asked to reduce their number of passengers throughout next week by not accepting new bookings.

In an email to Reuters, the airport said it had "asked airlines to reduce the number of local departing passengers this weekend by cancelling bookings, and not accepting new bookings from Schiphol in the period from 2 to 8 May."

"This is an annoying but necessary measure to reduce the number of passengers," it added.

The airport said it had advised travellers to contact their airlines for flight information.

It was not immediately clear how many flights would be cancelled or how many people would be affected.

KLM was expected to call off several flights on Friday, Dutch news agency ANP reported.

In a letter to airlines, Schiphol said it had no short-term solution for the long queues, Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported.

Schiphol is suffering from a lack of baggage handling staff and personnel to man passport control desks.

The upheaval comes after the UK’s Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham airports have experienced similar issues.

Long queues and chaos at Manchester Airport earlier this month prompted the local mayor to step in to hold crisis talks with airport bosses, police and the fire service.

Relief staff were later drafted in and extra police were sent to patrol the airport in a bid to calm the chaotic scenes.

Passengers at Heathrow reported having to queue for hours to get through security before boarding their flights. Incoming travellers posted photos showing queues packed with lines of weary travellers queueing for passport checks upon arrival.

The airports’ struggle to hire enough staff to cope with the increasing demand for travel is part of an industry-wide problem.

British Airways and easyJet were forced to cancel hundreds of flights in recent weeks due to staff shortages linked to Covid-19.

Updated: April 29, 2022, 8:41 AM