Amsterdam Schiphol CEO resigns due to airport chaos

The executive director of Amsterdam Schiphol announced his resignation on Thursday due to persistent problems at the airport, one of the busiest in Europe, the scene for several months of long queues due to a shortage of staff.

“I’ve done my best, but we’re not there yet,” said Dick Benschop as the airport this week again was forced to ask airlines to cancel flights due to a shortage of security personnel.

“The way Schiphol tackles problems, and my responsibility as CEO, is the subject of a lot of attention and criticism,” the Dutchman observed in a statement, adding to “make room for [sa] own initiative to give Schiphol the space to make a fresh start”.

Like many other airports in Europe, Schiphol has experienced significant disruption in recent months due to staff shortages as the airline industry recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In an attempt to reduce traveler wait times, the airport has capped passenger numbers since July. He had also promised staff bonuses for the busy summer months.

“Drastic measures have been taken under Dick’s leadership to stabilize the situation at Schiphol,” Jaap Winter, chairman of the airport’s supervisory board, was quoted in the statement.

“Improvements have been made in the summer, but it’s not enough,” he added.

Mr. Benschop, a former senior Shell executive and 64-year-old deputy minister, tendered his resignation Wednesday evening to the supervisory board, which gave its approval. He will remain in office until his successor arrives, the airport said.

– “Unfortunate” –

Long queues and traveler frustration over a shortage of security personnel had returned in September to Schiphol, which this week asked airlines to cancel flights.

The main Dutch union FNV has claimed that the renewed chaos was due to the abolition of the summer allowance, which caused many security workers to leave their posts after finding work elsewhere.

The FNV, which has reached agreements with Mr Benschip aimed at improving the conditions of workers, however considered his departure “unfortunate” and fears that the resignation “will further delay the solution”.

BARIN, an advocacy group for airlines active in the Netherlands, said the departure was the “result of a faulty policy at the airport”, ANP reported.

Several industry players welcomed the resignation and also criticized Schiphol’s decision to scrap the summer allowance for its workers.

“Finally!” exclaimed to the ANP Hendrik Noorderhaven, director of EUclaim, an organization which helps travelers to obtain compensation.

Mr Benschop’s departure is “a logical consequence of what has happened at the airport in recent months”, added the Dutch cabin crew union VNC.

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