Schiphol optimistic about 2004

NETHERLANDS. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol welcomed 39.9 million passengers in 2003, down -2% over the previous year, according to provisional figures released by the airport. The number of air transport movements (scheduled and charter flights) also reflected a -2% decline, at 393,000.

Schiphol Group president and CEO Mr GJ Cerfontaine said passenger numbers and flights were down as a result of the Iraq war, the outbreak of SARS and the poor worldwide and national economic situation. The hot summer in the Netherlands also accounted for a fall in holiday bookings.

During the last few months of 2003, passenger transport showed signs of recovery. Schiphol Group’s management board projects that the number of passengers travelling via Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in 2004 will increase by +4.5% to around 41.7 million.

Schiphol Group’s CEO once again stated that he was positive about the planned merger between Air France and KLM. “Within the intended multi-hub system of Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Airport Schiphol the merger offers our airport perspective to maintain its position as one of Europe’s four major hubs – a position that is exceptionally important for the Dutch economy”.

He reiterated that it was vital that the competitive position of the Randstad area – formed by the major cities of west Holland – as a European economic region be reinforced to secure a high quality network of connections through Schiphol. “Economic activity is a primary condition to achieve this. It will require the joint effort of all parties involved. I am pleased that the government has meanwhile undertaken the first steps in this area”.

In addition, Cerfontaine stated that he hoped that the Dutch government, during its chairmanship of the European Union for a period of six months this year, would do more to create a level playing field between the airports in Europe. “Whether this involves implementing separation of the Schengen and non-Schengen countries, implementation and the costs of security measures or environmental measures such as the insulation of homes, time and again it has become apparent that Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is at a disadvantage compared with rival airports”.

Furthermore, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol itself will have to work hard to maintain its position. “We shall have to outperform our main competitors, in all key areas. That not only applies to the quality of primary services and facilities but also to visiting costs”, Cerfontaine stated.

Schiphol Group is working on the latter. Last year a cost-cutting programme was instituted that has already led to a substantial reduction of the costs incurred in 2003. The programme will also apply in the coming years.

Food & Beverage The Magazine eZine