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A Boeing 737 with around 200 passengers or an Airbus a380 with more than 600: it makes quite a difference – a difference that is clearly visible at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Aircraft are getting larger and fuller, resulting in millions of additional travellers a year, which means that more space is needed. This is one of the reasons for the renovation of Departures 1 & Lounge 1; contracting authority Dennis Stout is responsible for this task.
“The fact that aircraft are getting larger and fuller causes peak loads at the airport,” Dennis says. “A single aircraft therefore generates a surge in passenger flow, which is why we need to improve and expand the existing terminal.” Since 1 April (no joke!), Dennis has been working as the contracting authority for the HT1 project. “By then much of the planning had already been completed. Now it’s all about the implementation.”
One of the most visible activities is the construction of the mezzanine floor, which requires extensive preparation. “The mezzanine floor has to be in place by early 2019, which is quite soon. We are currently working towards that goal by relocating stairs and lifts, clearing spaces and the like.” Far more happens behind the scenes than travellers are aware of. “People sometimes remark that they have not noticed much of an upheaval in the Departures,” Dennis smiles. “We take that as a compliment, since we are doing all we can to minimise disruption. In fact there is plenty going on already, such as the construction work on the new business class lounges.”
The renovation of Lounge 1 will begin when Departures 1 is ready. “So that we don’t have to do everything at once, work on the Lounge will start in mid-2020. The architect has just begun with the design.” What is the biggest challenge Dennis envisages in the coming period? “Actually, there are two. It is not just the renovation of the terminal which, in itself, is a highly complex and vulnerable process. I am also looking beyond that stage. Soon the terminal will be finished. And what then? Are operations and the airlines up to speed? Does everyone understand the improved baggage scans and equipment? Does everyone know the new routes? And will we be able to boost revenues in Lounge 1? In that sense, I am trying to expand our horizons that little bit further.”
Dennis believes that the refurbished Departures and Lounge 1 will be particularly useful in creating a capacity buffer. “Before long, temporary Departures 1A will have to be cleared and then it will be another couple of years until the new terminal is complete. We cannot afford to wait until then. The renovation of Departures 1 gives us room to breathe. It means we’ll be able to manage for a while.”