Ruud Sondag will continue to lead operations at Schiphol Airport until March 1 at the latest, the airport said in a statement on Monday. He was initially hired as the interim CEO with a 10-month contract ending on August 31, which the airport thought would give them enough time to find a permanent CEO.
His extension was at the request of the Supervisory Board. In the time that Sondag has been in the top spot, he worked to eliminate staffing shortages in security, while putting the airport on a path to bring more of the airport’s outsourced operations back under its own roof. This followed months of issues related to overcrowding at security checkpoints, and a massive backlog of baggage that remained left behind at the airport. The issues plagued the former CEO, Dick Benschop, leading to his resignation.
“During the May holidays, things were much better for both travellers and airlines,” Sondag said in a statement on Monday. “We’re staying on top of things. The understanding is that structural improvements are required. We are tackling overdue maintenance, which is tied to a new way of working, in the areas of working conditions, environment, the surrounding area and our infrastructure and buildings.”
Sondag arrived at Schiphol after serving as the head of Dutch energy firm Eneco, and waste processing firm Van Gansewinkel. He also sat on the boards of both ProRail and the Port of Rotterdam. When he arrived, he came with words of support from senior members of the FNV labor union and Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag. The Dutch government is the majority shareholder of Schiphol Airport.
“The Supervisory Board is going through an intensive recruitment process for a permanent CEO,” said Schiphol Supervisory Board Chair Jaap Winter. “It is in the interests of Schiphol, all employees and stakeholders that the interim period is being extended and that Ruud Sondag is staying on for a little longer. Together with the whole management team, and in a short period of time, he has made effective choices that give Schiphol a clear agenda for the future. Quality and stability are now top priorities.”
Sondag said he wants to keep working towards these goals while a permanent CEO is found. “Moreover, I also just really enjoy working at Schiphol.”