KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) has decried as "simply unacceptable" announced plans by Amsterdam Schiphol to again drastically restrict the number of departing passengers this winter ending March 2023, saying the situation has already cost the airline EUR100 million euros (USD97.9 million) and is damaging its reputation.

The Dutch flag carrier responded to Schiphol's announcement on September 29 that it would continue to cap the number of departing passengers until the end of March 2023 while it was working on solutions with trade unions to solve its ongoing staffing shortage.

In a strongly worded statement, KLM said airlines were being asked to implement reductions of up to 22% for the winter season after having already been forced to cap their capacity by 18% in the summer to the end of October 2022.

"This hopeless situation, lacking any perspective, has been in effect since May. 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 are damaging our reputation amongst passengers who are keen and willing to travel after the extended Covid crisis," the airline complained.

KLM President and Chief Executive Officer Marjan Rintel criticised Schiphol's service standards for airlines and passengers as having 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% in the coming years. Moreover, it is harming KLM's carefully developed reputation, with damages already amounting to more than EUR100 million."

Still, KLM had no other choice but to further restrict ticket sales. "This will hopefully ensure that we can minimise further cancellations for customers and, at the same time, remain within the boundaries Schiphol has set to ensure operational safety at the airport. KLM is doing whatever it can to ensure customers who have already booked will depart as planned."

Schiphol said it had consulted with airlines before announcing further caps but acknowledged that the airlines were unhappy with the continued capacity restrictions because they needed longer-term planning.

"There will be a time towards the end of the year when we will look at whether more might be possible from the end of January. Schiphol has made this choice to provide travellers with a reliable travel experience and predictability and stability for airlines. At the same time, the airport is hard at work to improve capacity at security," it said in a statement.

"Together with the security companies and unions, we are working hard on making structural improvements – a daunting task in a very tight labour market. It's something to be realistic about. That's why it will only become clear later this year whether more is possible after January," explained Chief Operating Officer Hanne Buis. Efforts included better rosters, improved restrooms, and better wages for security company employees.

Based on Schiphol's available capacity, the Dutch independent slot coordinator (ACNL) will consult with all airlines to arrive at the required capacity reduction.

Transavia Airlines (HV, Amsterdam Schiphol) was not immediately available for comment. The airline in June said it was "stunned about unilateral government intention to reduce the number of flights from Schiphol", which had severely impacted Dutch holidaymakers.

Airlines were forced to cancel hundreds of flights from Schiphol this summer due to the continued staffing crisis that resulted in long passenger queues, missed, delayed, and diverted flights, and baggage pile-ups.