How our members are keeping Schiphol up-and-running

How our members are keeping Schiphol up-and-running

Not everyone is currently working at home. Several Schiphol colleagues are working at the airport, ensuring air traffic runs smoothly and caring for key workers’ children. Three colleagues share their experiences.

Deborah Garcia Loureiro, Branch Manager, CompaNanny Schiphol-CBD: ‘We’re open every day, providing childcare for parents who are key workers. We normally have five full classes, but there are now only two, and they have fewer children in them. The number of children is different each day because the parents often work variable shifts and we respond flexibly to that.

Our children’s day-care centre is part of a larger organisation and we’ve coordinated things effectively. Protocols have been drawn up and we’re following government advice to the letter. That means social distancing, working hygienically and if any children or staff are ill, they stay at home. I’m working both at home and at Schiphol and my colleagues are doing the same. Everyone’s fine with it. We’re doing important work, because we’re enabling key workers who are parents to do their work, making our contribution in these uncertain times.

It’s all completely unreal. Normally, there are traffic jams on the way to work, but it’s really quiet now. All of the shops at Schiphol are closed. It’s obvious that lots of measures are in place, but everyone’s sticking to the rules. In the meantime, we’re trying to be creative by organising fun activities for the children. We’ve even made a banner to support healthcare workers and hung it in front of our centre. This is our way of supporting healthcare staff and colleagues who are key workers. We’re also sending out extra newsletters to all parents, to enable them to keep the children busy at home. In times like these, it’s important to focus on the positive.’

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Gil Arnold, Operations Officer, Airport Control: ‘From air traffic to towing services – it’s our job to keep an eye on everything that happens airside 24/7, all year round. The coronavirus crisis is having a significant impact on our work. Today, there will be 168 aircraft arriving and departing at Schiphol, whereas there are normally around 1,200.

We’re now doing a lot of work that’s not part of the regular process. Schiphol has moved forward certain tasks, such as major maintenance projects. Having aircraft parked on Runway 18L-36R is very unusual. We’re closely involved in that process, because the towage staff report to us and we deploy marshallers to facilitate the parking places. We’re now being called on to do what we were employed for, which is to demonstrate flexibility. The positive side of the situation is that absence through sickness is at a low level in our team. We’re all healthy and we have a strong and vibrant team.

In order to make it possible to observe a distance of 1.5 m, staffing has been reduced from 3 to 2 employees. More colleagues are now working from home. We’re working with standby shifts, ready to step in in emergencies. I also work from home every few days and have noticed how our team of 15 people has become very coordinated. In the group app, we remain in close contact about work, but also about the situation at home. That makes us even more of a close-knit team.’

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Daphne Schep, Team Manager, Operations Floor Management: ‘For the aircraft still arriving and departing, it's our job to ensure travellers can find their way into the terminal. Because there are hardly any travellers left at the moment, you might think our job has really quietened down. But, in fact, it’s actually proving to be a busy time for the floor managers. Right across the terminal, we’ve been putting up posters and stickers to keep people socially distanced. And we’ve been coming up with some creative solutions. One floor manager placed baggage trolleys around the baggage belt so people don’t need to stand too close to each other to retrieve their cases.

I’m working on alternative shifts at Schiphol and we’re trying to coordinate everything with colleagues as effectively as possible. That calls for flexibility, as there are occasions when a colleague has someone at home with a high temperature. In cases like that, you have to stay at home and someone else comes to the airport to work.

Things have also changed at home. I have two daughters, aged one and six. The oldest one is in group 3 at school, learning the basics of reading and writing. That means you have to spend a couple of hours a day with your daughter, because she can’t do it on her own. Last week, I had my first conference call for work. After hanging up, we had a conference call with school, with the teacher and classmates.

My partner is a KLM flight attendant. He’s currently in reserve, because the future is also uncertain at KLM. He’s on standby at home, but could be called up to work shifts. These are uncertain times for everyone, but I’m staying level-headed. You try to keep your distance and follow the rules. It’s quite good to be back at work for a day, because hearing about everything remotely is far from ideal. I’m really glad to be here in person and actually feel good about it.’

Annick Oosterlee

Community Manager
Schiphol Real Estate
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