Speaking at the New Year’s reception, Amsterdam Schipol Airport group president Jos Nijhuis announced that the airport is expecting to see a sharp drop in both passenger and cargo traffic in 2009 as a direct result of the global financial crises.

Traffic at the airport experienced a downward trend in 2008, where a total of 47.4 million passengers travelled through Amsterdam Airport Schiphol a drop of 0.8% over the previous year. Cargo traffic also saw a downward trend in 2008, dropping by 1.4%.

This year the airport expects to see an even sharper drop of around 6% to 10% in all air transport movements.

According to Nijhuis, the financial crisis is forcing the airport to reconsider their business strategy.

“Nobody knows how long and deep the current recession will be. In August we thought that passenger numbers would decrease by another 1% in 2009. However, as the global financial crisis deepened in the final months of 2008 we have had to reassess our business strategy. In a month’s time, we expect to be able to provide more clarity on the matter,” Nijhuis said.

The airport president also said that in the current crises it was important to maintain their standard of operations.

“What is important is that we maintain our social function and keep operating efficiently, whilst also developing a response to rising competition from other airports and to the needs of airlines,” Nijhuis said.

“We will need to make adjustments to our budget and scheduled investments for 2009. Just a few months ago we had anticipated around €470m in investments for 2009. But of these, several projects to the value of €180m have been postponed at least until 1 April.”

Part of the drop in air traffic at the airport has also been blamed on the introduction of the air passenger tax in July of last year, which resulted in low cost carriers and various other airlines operating 25% fewer flights.

By Daniel Garrun.