Jos Nijhuis to step down as CEO of Royal Schiphol Group in Q1 2018

Schiphol, 20 October 2017

Jos Nijhuis, President and CEO of Royal Schiphol Group, will step down as head of the airport company in the first quarter of 2018. He announced his decision today to the Supervisory Board, Management Board members and employees of Schiphol, the Minister of Finance and the Minister for the Environment.

Now that the new coalition agreement has created space for further development of the airport, Nijhuis wants to pass the torch so that the new CEO can begin implementing the government plans from the outset. Nijhuis’s exact departure date will depend on the starting date of his successor, whom he would like to ensure is properly onboarded. Nijhuis will remain available for Schiphol Group throughout the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, the Supervisory Board has contracted a search agency to recruit a new President and CEO.

Jos Nijhuis on his decision to step down: ‘With a great deal of gratitude for the opportunity I have been given to lead the most wonderful company in the Netherlands for nine years, I have decided to step down as CEO of Royal Schiphol Group in the first quarter of 2018. Although my intention was, at the request of the Supervisory Board, to serve out the full two years of my last contract extension, I think that for several reasons it is best to pass the torch at the beginning of next year.

There is now a coalition agreement from the new government, which sets out a clear course for the long-term future of Schiphol. There will be room for growth, in balance with the airport’s surroundings. It will be good if the development and implementation of these plans is taken up from the outset by a new CEO. When I agreed to an extension last year, Schiphol had a new Management Board. This team is now thoroughly settled in, and that gives a lot of confidence for the future.’

Louise Gunning, Chair of the Supervisory Board of Royal Schiphol Group, had the following to say in response to Nijhuis’s announcement: ‘Jos is highly valuable for Schiphol and we will miss his leadership. I deeply regret that he’s decided to leave sooner than planned, but I understand his consideration that this is a better moment than a year from now, given the timing of important long-term dossiers.

Under Jos’s leadership, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has become a much stronger mainport that is of vital importance for the Dutch economy. Together with the airlines and KLM in particular, he has made an important contribution to the connection between the Netherlands and the rest of the world. He and his team have also taken major steps towards increasing sustainability. I’m happy that we can still work together for another six months or so to ensure that his succession goes smoothly.’

New Aviation ActIn his announcement, Schiphol’s CEO referred to a number of dossiers which are better off being taken up and continued under new leadership. Nijhuis: ‘For example, under the new Aviation Act, negotiations on the future multi-annual airport charges must take place in 2018. It would be better for my successor to lead these negotiations.

In addition, the Capital Programme has got off to a good start. The construction of Pier A has begun and the design of the new terminal is also complete. Under new leadership, this investment programme can fully come to fruition.

Furthermore, contrary to what we thought in 2016, the Schiphol Local Community Council still has many steps to take in order to reach agreements for the continued development of the mainport after 2020. In fact, we are still in the early stages of that process. Last but not least, the construction of Lelystad Airport is proceeding according to schedule. This is an important milestone which will give Schiphol more space.’

Strength as a teamIn his statement to his colleagues, Nijhuis wrote: ‘I have great satisfaction, pride and gratitude as I look back on what we have all achieved over the past few years. The airport has successfully made it through the crisis and is financially sound. We are now the third-largest airport in Europe, after London and Paris. We have grown from 43 million to nearly 70 million passengers. That is an increase of 60%. When it comes to direct connections to destinations across the globe, we are number one in Europe. In the area of hub connectivity we are ranked number two in the world. Together with the airlines and KLM in particular, we are making a significant contribution to our country’s economy.

Over the past several years, and very recently as well, we have been selected for various awards by passengers and the aviation world. We have completed numerous major refurbishment and renovation projects, such as the introduction of central security. We have also made great strides in the area of sustainability, marked by achievements such as reducing energy consumption, electrifying transport both airside and landside, and using sustainable energy generated on Dutch soil. It is therefore a good time to hand over the helm.

It has been wonderful to work with so many professionals in and around the aviation world over the last nine years – and especially with you, the more than two thousand employees of Royal Schiphol Group. We have been through a lot together and have accomplished a lot as well. We have had highs and lows. I am reminded of the tragic events surrounding the MH17 disaster on the one hand, and the celebration of our 100th anniversary on the other.

These and other events show our strength as a team. Your perseverance, professionalism, work ethic and love for Schiphol have always moved me and are unforgettable. I would like to offer you my heartfelt gratitude for your tremendous efforts over the last several years. My successor will be lucky to have the opportunity to work with this team.’