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(November 2022)

Over the past six months, European airports have struggled to manage the passenger demand due to staffing issues and entry processes. Two of the largest airports, London Heathrow and Amsterdam’s Schiphol International airport imposed daily passenger capacity caps, limiting the number of flights and passengers to arrive and depart their facilities.

London’s Heathrow


Heathrow first initiated capacity caps through the facility in July. Sparking the need to implement caps was largely driven by multiple last minute cancellations, extended departure delays, lost baggage and extensive security lines, all of which caused significant traveler frustrations and dissatisfaction. According to an airport spokesman, the passenger cap seemed to have had the effect desired by positively impacting each of these areas of concern, specifically with 88% of passengers clearing security in 20 minutes.

Amsterdam’s Schipol


Shiphol, on the other hand, has made a decision to continue to extend passenger caps through March of 2023, stating ongoing staffing issues and a lack of available security guards. The latest passenger cap will limit the number of locally departing passengers per day by an average of 22%, up from the 18% reduction announced earlier this month. Although the restrictions are scheduled to remain until the end of March, 2023, review and possible tightening of measures will take place at the end of January.

Impact to the Airlines

In a statement released on 29 September, a representative of the Schiphol airport acknowledged that airlines are “not happy” about the extended passenger cap and that it is working closely with labor unions and security companies to find “structural solutions to the staff shortage”.

Dutch carrier KLM has hit back at the “hopeless situation” at Schiphol, saying the latest restrictions “lack perspective”.

In a statement the carrier said: “Schiphol has repeatedly called on KLM and other airlines, and hence our passengers, to resolve this persistent problem. The ongoing constraints on passengers boarding locally is damaging our reputation among passengers who are keen and willing to travel after the extended Covid crisis.”

It went on to say: “Schiphol’s service standards – for airlines and their passengers – have been sub-standard for too long. This is damaging to KLM and is in stark contrast with the rising operational costs for the use of Schiphol, with increases of up to 37 percent in the coming years. Moreover, it is harming KLM’s carefully developed reputation, with damages already amounting to more than €100 million.”

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