Zurich Airport announces 400 million franc upgrade to baggage system

Zurich Airport announces 400 million franc upgrade to baggage system

In a bid to avoid a repeat of the chaotic scenes which took place across Europe and Switzerland last year, officials have announced that they will be completely overhauling the baggage handling system at the Zurich Airport. The upgrade will cost a whooping 400 million Swiss francs, the largest investment in the airport’s 75-year history.

Zurich Airport struggles with passenger numbers

In a statement given to the Tages-Anzeiger, officials confirmed that 2,1 million passengers travelled from or to Zurich Airport in July 2023 alone. To make sure that passengers get their bags shipped to the right places, the largest airport in Switzerland uses 23 kilometres worth of baggage sorting systems, spaced out over an area the size of nine football pitches.

Unfortunately, the return of travel in 2022 and the passenger boom of this year have put excessive strain on the airport and its workers. Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger, a spokesperson admitted that while the airport has a target of loading 997 out of every 1.000 bags onto the correct aircraft, it has only met said target in three weeks of the 33 weeks of 2023 that have passed so far.

According to chief engineer Thomas Calame, the fault lies with the baggage handling system, noting that "the system is 25 years old, it's through, she stutters constantly, the error messages are constantly increasing." 20 Minuten noted that the poor performance is quite the turnaround, with the award-winning airport once counting itself among the best in the world when it came to handling luggage.

Zurich Airport confirms huge upgrade to baggage system

To solve the problem, officials in Zurich have embarked on a project to completely overhaul the system with the latest software and technology. Security, belt and transport systems are all being overhauled, the baggage facility is being expanded and the number of deposit points is being increased from 92 to 116. 

It is hoped that the upgrades, estimated to cost a record-breaking 400 million francs, will restore the airport's good record. They are due to come online in the autumn, with final completion set for 2027.

With the previous disruption in mind, when asked what passengers should expect from the new system, Calame joked that “in the best-case scenario, nobody will notice.”

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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