Although it will not have to cancel its existing bookings on a major scale, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KL, Amsterdam Schiphol) says it holds Amsterdam Schiphol responsible for the financial impact arising from the embattled airport’s decision to cut 13,500 seats daily between July 6 and August 28, 2022.

The Dutch national carrier was responding to an announcement by Schipol that it was forced to limit daily passenger throughput during the peak summer holiday period due to continued security staff shortages. The maximum number of travellers at Schiphol are expected to peak at 67,500 on the busiest days in July and up to 72,500 in August. At this stage, there are 13,500 daily seats too many for the airport’s security capacity.

In reaction, KLM said it opposed the measures in principle and stressed they were “highly detrimental”. “It should be a one-off, short-term solution. KLM finds it unacceptable that the airport’s users should have to structurally bear the burden of capacity problems at Schiphol,” the airline said in a statement.

“KLM has cooperated with efforts to solve the problem, in the interests of passengers and safety at the airport. We have done so, among other things, by complying with Schiphol’s requests to scrap flights and voluntarily slow down ticket sales, spread flights across the day, extend connection times, etcetera.”

Still, KLM said it would comply with the request to reduce the number of passengers boarding locally, thereby helping to reduce the pressure on security at Schiphol during the peak period, it added.

Schipol, in a statement, said it had intensive consultations with airlines and the independent slot coordinator (ACNL) in the past few weeks regarding the implementation of the passenger cap. “The consultations are now over and Schiphol has let the slot coordinator know what the capacity is for the period between July 7 and July 31, with a view to the rest of the summer. On that basis, the slot coordinator will hold talks with all airlines regarding reducing the number of passengers. In two weeks’ time, a decision will be made regarding the period starting July 31, based on the expected airport capacity at that time. All efforts are aimed at being able to increase capacity.

“The consequences of this measure vary per day. In the outlook for these weeks in July, there are 13,500 seats on average too many each day relative to security capacity. This does not mean that the same number of travellers will be adversely affected by this measure. Some of the seats included in the planning have not yet been sold. All parties will do their utmost to keep the consequences for travellers to a minimum by, where possible, rebooking them or rescheduling the flights to other airports. Flights will also be cancelled, either due to the limits being set or for other reasons,” it said.

The airport said current demand for air travel was exceeding even the highest expectations, while the labour market remained "incredibly tight". "The strain is being felt in all areas of the aviation industry, from airports to airlines, in the Netherlands and in other countries. Schiphol based the planning for 2022 on a high scenario: from 25.5 million passengers in 2021 to 60 million passengers in 2022. With the staff shortages in security, Schiphol will remain slightly below this scenario," it said.