Schiphol overcrowded and airlines cancel flights to holiday destinations
TUI and Corendon have announced the cancellation of all holiday flights for the foreseeable future as a result of the Dutch government’s negative travel advice and in an attempt to reduce the business at Schiphol airport.
Dutch government's negative travel advice
In his live televised speech on December 14, Prime Minister Mark Rutte once again asked the public not to travel internationally unless it was absolutely necessary, and told people not to book any holidays until (at least) mid-March.
The travel advice was not new - Rutte has been advising against travel practically all year, himself choosing to stay in the Netherlands for his holiday over the summer - but with the Christmas holidays right around the corner, a number of people are going ahead with their travel plans, whether to get some winter sun or to visit family and friends for the festive season.
Crowds at Schiphol leave government minister "disappointed and angry"
Over the weekend and throughout this week, Schiphol was reportedly overwhelmed by travellers, with images of long queues and crowds in the departure hall shocking many - including the government Minister for Infrastructure, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen.
In an interview with NOS on Wednesday, Van Nieuwenhuizen said she was “disappointed and angry” to see how busy Schiphol was, and stated she had repeatedly asked airport management and various airlines to take action and reduce / manage crowds.
Van Nieuwenhuzen and the Dutch government are under pressure from parliament to take further action against the busyness at airports or even introduce a (temporary) travel ban. However, Rutte said he will not do that, saying a flight ban is “an incredibly drastic measure” that no other EU country had imposed.
TUI and Corendon cancel all flights to holiday destinations
In response to demands from Van Nieuwenhuizen, Schiphol Airport said that they were doing everything in their power to ensure things ran smoothly and responsibly, and they urged people who were dropping passengers off or picking them up not to go into the terminal.
Then, on Wednesday night, Dick Benschop, CEO of Schiphol, echoed Rutte’s advice and implored the public not to travel unless it was absolutely necessary: “[Schiphol is] doing everything advised. I urge everyone to follow the advice and only fly when necessary.”
Now, both TUI and Corendeon have announced that all flights to sun and snow destinations have been cancelled as a result of the negative travel advice - on Wednesday, the last of the yellow-coded countries (Bonaire, Aruba, and Sint Maarten) turned orange. In the FAQ section of their website, Corendon says: “In response to the new measures imposed by the government, Corendon has decided to cancel all booked holidays with a departure date before January 19, 2021.”
Since TUI and Corendon's announcement, KLM has adjusted their departure times for European flights and scrapped half of their flights to Curacao. Transavia is also looking to see what they can do to limit crowds at Schiphol. A spokesperson for the General Dutch Association of Travel Agencies (ANVR) said the current set up was unfair, as any travellers who had had their holidays cancelled would simply be able to go to another airline and book a flight. He also said that airlines should take responsibility and check whether their customers’ journeys are actually necessary.