Strike causes chaos at Amsterdam airport as holiday begins


By Anthony Deutsch

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport urged travellers to stay away for several hours on Saturday as a strike by ground personnel at the start of a school holiday caused chaos at Europe’s third-busiest airport.

“The terminal is too full at the moment … Schiphol is calling on travellers not to come to the airport anymore,” airport authorities said in a statement issued shortly before noon (1000 GMT).

Almost three hours later the airport said passengers were welcome again but would still face long waiting times and possible delays or cancellations.

Police closed down highway exits to the airport briefly on Saturday afternoon as lines at departure gates stretched out of the airport buildings.

A Schiphol spokesperson said the temporary closure was necessary to guarantee safety and to get as many as possible of the thousands of frustrated passengers aboard their often-delayed flights.

Baggage handlers for KLM, the Dutch arm of airline Air France-KLM, had early on Saturday gone on a previously unannounced strike to press demands for higher pay and better working conditions.

KLM ground staff handle about half of all luggage coming through Schiphol, Europe’s third busiest airport after Paris Charles de Gaulle and London Heathrow.

Labour union FNV said the walkout had ended around noon.

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