Schiphol airport chief resigns over flight disruption

The chief executive of Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport has resigned over the flight chaos that is still gripping the Dutch hub, becoming the most senior corporate casualty of this year’s travel disruption.

Dick Benschop, a former politician, said he would quit because of the intense criticism he and the airport have received in the Netherlands after months of problems caused by staff shortages.

“A lot of attention and criticism has been directed towards the way in which Schiphol is tackling the problems and my responsibility as CEO . . . I do not want the attention on me as an individual to become an obstacle for Schiphol,” he said in a statement.

“I have done my very best, but we’re not there yet. I hope that things improve soon,” he said.

Benschop is one of the first aviation chief executives to resign over the problems this summer, and to take publicly take personal responsibility.

The boss of Manchester airport Karen Smart resigned in April following disruption over Easter, while easyJet’s chief operating officer Peter Bellow quit in July.

British Airways chief executive Sean Doyle made a string of changes to his senior management as the airline grappled with disruption in May.

Benschop will remain in place while Schiphol’s supervisory board searches for a successor.

Its chair Jaap Winter said the airport was facing “ongoing bad news” and that it “must return” to offering passengers and airlines a “quality” service.

Schiphol is one of Europe’s busiest airports and has suffered from a wave of disruption that has extended into the autumn.

The airport was one of the first to impose a cap on passenger numbers to try to get a grip on operational problems.

The drastic measures helped impose greater reliability, but Schiphol was this week forced to ask airlines to cancel more flights because of low staffing levels.

Passengers have complained of long queues stretching through the airport even as the busiest part of the summer season comes to an end.

“Under Dick’s leadership, far-reaching measures were taken to stabilise the situation at Schiphol. Improvements were made during the summer, but this isn’t enough,” Winter said.

Benschop had led Schiphol since 2018 and previously was a senior executive at Shell. He was a politician before that, including a spell as deputy minister for foreign affairs between 1998 and 2002.

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