LCommunity engagement


At Schiphol, we make every effort to listen to the needs and wishes of our local communities and are keen that residents view us as a good neighbour. As we work to fulfil our mission of strengthening Mainport Schiphol, it is more important than ever that we listen closely to the concerns of families, individuals and businesses affected by our activities. We recognise the negative effects of our business, such as noise and emissions, and continue working hard to ensure we have a positive impact on our region.

As in previous years, Schiphol organised a range of initiatives and events throughout 2018 aimed at fostering engagement with local neighbourhoods, setting ourselves the target of organising at least four stakeholder dialogues. Our community engagement programme remains a key focus in 2019, and we will continue to explore ways to promote dialogue with our neighbours and engage different stakeholder groups.

Local environmental quality projects

Working closely with the province of North-Holland, Schiphol has established the Schiphol Quality of Life Foundation (Stichting Leefomgeving Schiphol), in accordance with the medium-term agreements outlined in the Covenant on local environmental quality. Led by an independent management board, the Foundation oversees two initiatives: an improvement programme focused on area-specific projects, and a programme focused on individual measures, including mitigation in cases of noise-related distress.

The Quality of Life Foundation receives its funding from the province of North-Holland, as well as the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (I&W) and Royal Schiphol Group. Schiphol made 10 million euros available for the first phase of the programme and another 10 million for the second phase. This funding tranche will mainly be allocated to the individual measures programme, the second phase of which began in 2017.

The second phase of the area-specific programme was launched in early 2018, for which 20 million euros is available in principle. This programme encompasses 27 projects in the municipalities of Aalsmeer, Uithoorn, Haarlemmermeer and Haarlemmerliede, and has been developed in collaboration with the respective municipalities and their residents. Both the area-specific and individual measures programmes must be implemented no later than 2020. Further details can be found at www.stichtingleefomgeving.nl.

Schiphol Aviation Community

Schiphol stimulates regional employment through initiatives such as the Schiphol Aviation Community: a partnership with KLM and the Regional Training Centre (ROC) of Amsterdam aimed at developing and organising working and learning programmes for the aviation industry. The key focus in 2018 was on the development of IT skills; over the next few years, the Community will concentrate on labour security, vitality and attractive employment practices. One of its major successes since formation has been the 'one-stop desk' programme where employers across the Amsterdam Metropolitan Regions (MRA) are connected with potential employees through speed dates, job markets and inventories of talented people.

The Community also plays a coordinating role in the Aviation Inclusive programme: an initiative supporting people who have difficulty accessing employment. The programme took shape in 2016; since then, participation has expanded to include 36 employers at the Schiphol site. A great many individuals have found work through the scheme, including over 50 people in 2018 alone.

Projects for young people

Young people today are increasingly outspoken, and many are keen to have a say on issues affecting their local communities. As part of our efforts to engage with future generations, we reach out to children in nearby communities through educational activities at the Schiphol site and by involving them in discussions relating to the airport's future. We have also created a Schiphol teaching package aimed at introducing school children aged 11 to 12 to our airport in a fun way. The module consists of teaching materials for the students and a manual for teachers; further information can be found on the 'You and Schiphol' website.

The Children's Council

Schiphol has a Children's Council (Raad van Kinderen). In 2018, the Council consisted of pupils from the 1st Montessori school in Hoofddorp between the ages of 10 and 12. For eight weeks, the Council, working in groups as well as with the local community, set about answering the following question: how can Schiphol minimise the negative impact of the airport on local residents and enhance the positives? Their investigations produced a number of original insights and sparked a lively debate.

Schiphol is also a longtime supporter of JINC, a non-profit organisation working with children aged 8 to 16 from deprived areas to ensure they make a smooth entry into the world of work. The JINC programme offers the children an insight into different professions and encourages them to explore roles that fit their talents. Schiphol plays an active role, from organising insight days at the airport to 'language trips' where children with language difficulties are given help developing their vocabulary.

The Polderbaan experience

In July 2018, we closed Runway 18R-36L, known as the Polderbaan, for three weeks, in order to undertake essential maintenance. As the Polderbaan is one of our preferential runways, closing it meant potentially relying on other runways located closer to residential areas, with people living under these flight paths likely to experience more noise than usual.

We decided to reach out to the local community about the issue. On 7 April 2018, we welcomed 250 of our neighbours to Schiphol to take part in a unique event: the Polderbaan Experience. The day saw children and their parents participate in games and activities and meet representatives from different operational teams at Schiphol. It was an opportunity for families to have fun and learn about the day-to-day workings of the airport.

In 2019, we will continue our efforts to engage with our local community on the subject of runway maintenance, and plans are under way for a similar event to take place during the six-week closure of the Zwanenburgbaan during March and April. Our ultimate goal is not only to involve parents and their children in this important issue, but to engage the local community as a whole.

Schiphol Fund

The Schiphol Fund (Stichting het Schipholfond) exemplifies the airport's social involvement with the local community. Four times a year, the Fund's management board awards donations to non-profit public benefit organisations operating in the area of sport and exercise. In 2018, total donations worth 327,042 euros were made across 44 separate initiatives. These donations were used to purchase new equipment for the athletics club in the nearby town of Assendelft, for example, as well as floodlights for the Vennep Flyers, a local baseball team.

Stakeholder engagement

Schiphol Group is expected to inform its stakeholders in a timely manner of the wider social impact of its activities. Maintaining a strong local support base and mutual dependence, especially between sector partners, requires the airport to be a trustworthy partner with a long-term vision. We create trust by informing stakeholders and engaging in dialogue about our dilemmas. Sharing information helps us to inspire each other and provides us with concrete guidance through which we are able to define our role and our strategy. We learn to understand our stakeholders' priorities; this enables us to seek joint solutions for social issues and, where possible, follow up on questions and advice obtained from this dialogue.

The development of public space around Schiphol is discussed intensively with regional authorities and other local parties to ensure neighbouring communities are taken into account with regard to future capacity developments. We meet with resident groups within the Schiphol Local Community Council (ORS), while the Local Community Contact Centre (BAS) liaises with individual inhabitants. 2018 brought the launch of an extensive public consultation regarding the development of Schiphol after 2020. The consultation involves local and regional authorities, as well as local residents, various ministries and other stakeholders. In addition, Schiphol has a seat on the governing body of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (MRA) to improve accessibility and mobility within the region and is a consulting partner to various other bodies.

Further to this, Schiphol Group maintains regular and close contact with political and governmental stakeholders at a local, regional, national and international level. Among the topics discussed are current and future legislation and regulation, external factors that may influence our position or reputation, and actions that Schiphol Group or these stakeholders can take. Matters discussed in relation to Europe include the consequences of Brexit for airports and other aviation parties, and joint EU negotiations on landing rights with countries outside the European Union. Meanwhile, we continue to address topics such as Single European Sky, a European emissions trading system, and passenger rights, through our participation in ACI Europe (a leading airport trade association), as well as other channels.

As part of our stakeholder conversations, we conduct frequent surveys to measure the customer experience and carry our regular employee surveys as well. In 2016, we conducted our first reputation survey to canvass the views of local residents, as well as the media and the wider public. We repeated the survey in 2018; on this occasion, it was directed at local residents and the Dutch public, and solicited opinions on the development of Lelystad Airport as well as Schiphol. These studies help us to identify subjects that are important to our stakeholders and gauge our performance in relation to these issues. We intend to repeat these surveys on a regular basis.

Overview of 2018 stakeholder dialogues

Alongside the formalised contact moments, every year we also identify material aspects for stakeholders. The material aspects are used as input for an in-depth analysis, including through dialogue. We feel it is important to discuss the issues and dilemmas with our stakeholders. We do not focus exclusively on sector and business partners, but also talk to influential companies from a range of other industries to broaden our awareness.

Schiphol organised five stakeholder dialogues in 2018, thereby meeting our target of hosting four stakeholder dialogues in 2018. Members of the Management Board were present at three dialogue sessions. CEO Dick Benschop entered into conversation with the councils of five surrounding municipalities.

Stakeholder dialogue on sustainable energy

Forming part of our climate action efforts (SDG 13), 16 April 2018 saw the opening of the Autena wind farm from which Eneco supplies sustainable energy to Schiphol Group. To mark the development, Schiphol and Eneco organised a dialogue session with local residents and business owners. The topics under discussion were ‘sustainable connections and the community’, 'sustainable living’, and 'local sustainable entrepreneurship'. Schiphol CCO André van den Berg took part in the debate on behalf of the Group. The event underlined the importance of involving the neighbouring community in harnessing new innovations to meet society’s energy needs. Furthermore, investment from both the government and the private sector is essential in establishing large-scale electric transport and gas-free residential areas.

Discussions with the Children's Council

Schiphol actively seeks new partnerships as part of our efforts to fulfil the goals (SDG 17). One such partnership is with the Children’s Council (Raad van Kinderen), which advises Schiphol Group. In 2018, the Council spent eight weeks offering ideas and suggestions as to ways the airport can reduce the negative impact of its activities on local residents while enhancing the positives. The project ended on 4 April with an open dialogue involving Schiphol CFO Jabine van der Meijs.

Our interactions with the Council have taught us that Schiphol doesn’t always put itself across to the outside world as well as it could, and we have been offered tips to help us tell our story more clearly. Children also look at problems in a different way: from the perspective of what's possible, unlike ’the adult way of what’s not possible’. Schiphol has begun actioning these valuable insights and will be providing feedback to the Council in 2019.

Expert dialogue on mobility

Ensuring excellent landside accessibility is one of our biggest future challenges. Schiphol is developing a new bus and railway station for the longer term. However, in the meantime, the airport has to manage large numbers of travellers making their way to Amsterdam. In November 2018, Schiphol organised a meeting with transport partners in the region with a view to finding new solutions to the issue.

One of the outcomes of the discussions is a new study that will investigate the possibilities around digitising travel information and ticket sales. With a joint mobility platform, passengers will be able to buy their ticket in advance and download it on their phone. The hope is that this will result in a less stressful and more seamless transfer of passengers between Schiphol and Amsterdam’s public transport system.

Aviation Day

On 8 December 2018, some 600 people took part in Amsterdam’s Aviation Day. The event formed part of an extensive public consultation on Schiphol’s development beyond 2020, which is being led by the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management (I&W) and the Schiphol Local Community Council (ORS). Over the course of the day, Schiphol subject-matter experts led a range of workshops on topics such as ultra-fine particles, climate-related issues and flight routes.

Another key discussion examined the positive impact of aviation in driving employment and the local economy. Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop spoke with residents during a series of so-called 'living room sessions'. While, in general, the attendees were critical of the further growth of Schiphol, the open exchange of information was appreciated, as was Schiphol’s position with regard to the issue.

A conversation with the new municipal councils

With several new city councils being formed in 2018, Schiphol Group invited representatives of the municipal authorities situated in Schiphol’s vicinity to visit the airport. The aim was to get to know the council members and provide an overview of future developments and challenges relating to Schiphol. During their visit, representatives from the municipal councils of Haarlemmermeer, Aalsmeer, Uithoorn, Amsterdam and Amstelveen took part in an extensive open discussion with Schiphol CEO Dick Benschop. This was followed by a tour of the Schiphol site, which offered the visitors an insight into day-to-day operations at the airport and Schiphol's many sustainable airside initiatives.

Stakeholder dialogue on Brexit

On 21 December, Royal Schiphol Group and the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) held a stakeholder dialogue session on Brexit and its potential impact on the aviation sector. The discussion involved representatives from the Ministries of I&W and Foreign Affairs, as well as Dutch Customs, the British Embassy, ​​British Airways, KLM, and a number of other key aviation partners.

The dialogue addressed the legal implications of Brexit for the aviation sector, with KLM, Customs and Schiphol also discussing the wider consequences of the UK leaving the EU. The attendees found the mutual exchange of information especially useful. The NBCC will examine the need for further stakeholder guidance and may organise a follow-up meeting in mid-2019.

What do our stakeholders think of us?

In 2018, we commissioned a study examining the views on Schiphol and the development of Lelystad Airport among local residents and the general public at large. The survey was largely a repeat of a previous study conducted in 2016; the key variation was the involvement of local residents around Lelystad Airport.

The average score awarded to Schiphol by the survey respondents indicates that the public’s general perception of Schiphol Group is satisfactory. However, residents living in the vicinity of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol awarded the airport a lower score for social entrepreneurship, communication and relationship than that provided by respondents from other parts of the Netherlands. Meanwhile, stakeholders living close to Lelystad were evenly divided over the need for an overflow airport.

More generally, the research indicates decreasing support among local residents for expanding aviation in the Netherlands, though, equally, a high percentage of people acknowledge the importance of the sector to the Dutch economy. Paradoxically, people appear to agree on both issues.

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