Once a year, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol falls silent. No roaring engines, no ‘You’re delaying the flight’ through the PA system, no rattling baggage belts. For two minutes, there is no sound at all. At Schiphol, together with all our partners, we also commemorate the Dutch victims of the Second World War and later war situations. And this means taking a lot of different things into account.
Between 19:50 and 20:03, Air Traffic Control the Netherlands will not give permission for any aircraft to start their engines (take-off clearance). Between 20:00 and 20:03, aircraft may also no longer taxi or land. Aircraft which have not yet landed before 20:00 must postpone their final approach until after 20:03.
Apron lighting on
However, the temporary halt in air traffic is not the only measure we are taking. The huge numbers of staff on the runways, aprons and in the baggage department will all be stopping work for two minutes. All the apron lighting will be switched on at 20:00 to inform them that the two minutes have started. In addition, there will be no radio communication and the baggage belts at arrival and departure will come to a halt between 20:00 and 20:05.
Although there is normally a pleasant cacophony in the terminals, you will be able to hear a pin drop even there at 8 pm. At the check-in desks, security lanes and passport controls, the staff will temporarily stand next to their workplace. The lighting of the bright yellow information desks will be dimmed. The radios in retail and catering outlets will be switched off. The commemoration will be announced several times over the public address system and the ‘Last Post’ will be played at 19:58. After the two-minute silence, the Dutch national anthem will be played. Finally, all flags at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol will be at half mast.
Although there is no official memorial service at Schiphol itself, wherever possible the televisions will be tuned to the Dutch channels which are broadcasting the National Commemoration ceremony. The large screen on the bus and taxi square in front of Schiphol Plaza will also display the NPO 2 broadcast between 19:45 and 20:15. As a result, it will be possible to watch the memorial service in severalplaces at the airport.
What happens when the two minutes are up?
After the two minutes, the airport will immediately return to normal operation. Many systems will not be deactivated completely and people will remain at their posts, ensuring that everyone and everything can be fully operational again immediately afterwards.