In the quiet airport of Eindhoven, they count their blessings

Sir. and Mrs Van Lieshout see the planes land and take off from Eindhoven Airport’s panoramic terrace. It is an excursion they make regularly, they live nearby. They both think it’s very beautiful, they box. Mrs Van Lieshout (75) inherited this love from her father: While sitting on the pole of his bicycle, they went to see the military plane together. Sir. Van Lieshout (79): “And I think I got it from her again.”

It is quiet at Eindhoven Airport. Saturday afternoon there is easily half an hour between departing and arriving flights.

130 kilometers away, Schiphol Airport can not handle the passengers, people stand in line for hours at the security guard, and sometimes they miss their flight due to the waiting time. Last week, the Marechaussee even had to intervene to keep angry travelers at bay.

But here in Eindhoven you can buy a fridge magnet or wooden tulip in the souvenir shop without waiting, drop the suitcase, go through the check and to the gates – just go into the hall. Eindhoven offered Schiphol this month to take over flights. Schiphol’s spokesman let you know that it is not currently being considered to ask other (less and less busy) airports to take over flights. Maybe it will happen again this summer (holiday).

Also read: Action plan to make Schiphol ‘predictable and comfortable’ again is one of open doors

Bart van Griensven from Moergestel and his wife come out the revolving door, just returned from Portugal. They had to wait longer for their suitcase than they are used to, but compared to the horror at Schiphol, it should not have a name. Van Griensven: “We only fly from Schiphol if there really are no other options.”

Due to the huge media attention for the troubled airport near Amsterdam, all their blessings in Eindhoven count. “Yes, I saw it in the news,” says Mieke Cornelisse (73), Van Griensven’s mother-in-law, who picks up the couple. She will also soon be flying to Portugal, her second daughter lives there. From Eindhoven of course.

One floor with check-in counters

The shortage of workers at Schiphol is enormous, especially security and baggage personnel. There is also a shortage of staff in Eindhoven. The Fashion & Travel store is open four days a week instead of seven, says a clerk. And the store closes at five instead of eight. This applies to all shops at the airport except AH to go and the souvenir shop. But flight is not affected.

The reason is simple: compared to Schiphol, Eindhoven has few flights and almost no transfer (transfer passengers). The hall with the check-in counters can be seen at once. Alen Veselinovic (43) knows it like the back of his hand, because he cleans it with his ‘vacuum cleaner’. He also clears customs to clear the baggage claim area and the trunk of the plane. A colleague with a mop comes after him. They make the whole complex in pairs.

Cleaner Alen Veselinovic also notes the staff shortage at Eindhoven Airport.
Photo by Merlin Daleman

He also notices the staff shortage. Before the corona pandemic, the group of cleaners consisted of 35 people. Now there are still 20. “Sometimes it really takes a lot of effort,” he says. “If you do not clean in a day, it’s a mess.” heavy? Oh, what’s heavy? Before that he was a concrete carpenter. It was hard.

‘To fly cheaper from Eindhoven’

Julio Vega Sanchez (24) is in the square in front of the airport. “We could move on that way,” he says. “Both there and back.” He and 25 fellow students from the student association Virgiel from Delft have just returned from a week of surfing in Portugal. They had rented a hostel near Lisbon. The others sit somewhat dazed from “the big time” at a wooden picnic table.

“Schiphol is closer to us,” he says. “We chose Eindhoven because it is cheaper to fly from here. It was a lucky choice.”

Gert-Jan (63) and Bozena (62) Spierings from Gilze-Rijen are waiting for a bench. They travel to Poland. They go regularly because Bozena is from there and her parents live there. They recently flew to Tenerife via Cologne. “It was not nice,” says Gert-Jan. “Less clear and friendly than here.”

Sir. and Mrs Spierings travel to Poland in a moment.
Photo by Merlin Daleman

Before the corona, Mr and Mrs Van Lieshout, who still see planes on the panoramic terrace, regularly made a different trip: they booked a couple of nights at the Van der Valk Hotel near Schiphol. During the day, they took the free shuttle bus to the airport so they could walk around and see airplanes. So much to see there. Mr. Van Lieshout: “You can see thirty people coming in one after the other at the spot on the spot at McDonald’s.” Mrs Van Lieshout: “At least.”

Do they even fly somewhere? Mrs. Van Lieshout looks at her husband. “No, never.”

Mr. Van Lieshout: “I did not want to know where to go.”

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