Amsterdam Schiphol Puts Brakes On New Terminal

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Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport announced Monday that it is delaying its expansion plans. Its new terminal, intended to be operational in 2023, will have to wait as the award date, originally set for June this year, is being pushed back – indefinitely.

KLM grounded coronavirus
Schiphol has pushed back plans for its new terminal. Photo: Getty Images

Schiphol Terminal A

Usually, the skies over Amsterdam are buzzing with activity. On windier days approach is right over the city center, and you can see the belly of a plane almost every time you look up. Traffic has been steadily increasing, and Schiphol Airport has long outgrown its current capacity. Thus, grand plans were made for a new Terminal A. Now, the skies are eerily quiet, and Schiphol’s expansion plans have been put on ice.

The tendering procedure for the construction of the planned terminal will be broken down in several new phases. No details have been offered as to the exact procedure – or for any new expected time-frame. Schiphol said in a statement that the original award date for June 2020 has been postponed, and that “various scenarios will be developed with the impact of COVID-19 in mind.”

The new terminal, which was initially intended to be complete in 2023, would grant the airport the capacity for 14 million additional passengers annually. The design awarded to architectural firm KAAN Architecten in 2017 is meant to be an extension of Schiphol’s existing terminal. It will adjoin Departure Hall 1, allowing the airport to retain its one-terminal structure.

Empty Schiphol delays expansion plans
The airport is operating a bare-bones “Core Schiphol” regime, but the new pier is still a go. Photo: Getty Images

New pier still full speed ahead

However, other construction work is still ongoing, the airport said. Its new pier, on which it commenced work in March 2018, is still on course to open in December this year. This will add a total of eight new gates, five for narrowbodies on the north side, and three for widebodies on the south. Two more widebody gates will be added at a later stage.

“Core Schiphol” means faster maintenance

Earlier this month, Schiphol moved into a phase it is calling “Core Schiphol,” at first operating three (D, E, and F) of its eight piers but saying that it expected to maintain as little as two (D and E). The out-of-service piers are being used for parking grounded aircraft, most of which belong to Dutch flag-carrier KLM. Check-in services are limited to Departures 2 and 3.

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The closing down of most of the Amsterdam airport is allowing for maintenance work to be completed in shorter time-frames than expected. This is thanks to the lack of passengers, and not much traffic around to disrupt the process.

An extra security lane is being added to departure hall 4, and CT scans will be placed in each lane. The completion of this project has now been moved forward from September to May.  Scheduled maintenance on the drop-off road (Ceinturbaan) that would have had a significant impact on traffic flow is also being performed now rather than later this spring and is now set to be completed in May.

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KLM parked Schiphol
Closed piers are being used for parking, mostly KLM aircraft. Photo: KLM

Socially distancing workers

The airport said that measures are being implemented to keep the construction workers social distancing as much as possible to ensure their safety. Teams work as much as possible only with each other, the groups divide during lunch break, and workers try to maintain 1,5 meters away from each other.

Let us hope that the workers will be able to come back on contracts for a brand new, shiny Amsterdam Schiphol Terminal A soon.

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