Amsterdam Schiphol airport is to build a new baggage basement alongside the renovation of existing systems, in a move which it says is required to “continue guaranteeing baggage reliability”.

The airport said that building the brand new basement means that its existing baggage system – substantial sections of which are due for replacement – can be replaced without causing disruptions to airlines and passengers.

Schiphol had been planning to build an all-new terminal next to the existing Departure and Arrival Hall 1, but the project was put on hold in 2020 following the onset of Covid-19.

Amsterdam Schiphol delays expansion plans

With “no decision” yet having been made on the construction of the new terminal, the airport has decided to go ahead with the building of the new baggage basement “at the location where a possible new terminal can be constructed”.

“To keep the option [of the new terminal] open, an integral preliminary design is being created in collaboration with design team KLAIR (a consortium of van Kaan Architecten, Estudio Lamela, ABT and Ineco),” Schiphol said.

“The design will take the possibility of the construction of a new terminal on the roof of the new baggage basement into account. In this way, time, money and resources can be used consciously and sustainably.

“The new baggage basement will function independently of any new terminal to be built on top of it. In other words, the new basement is necessary to facilitate a future large-scale renovation.”

The airport said that a redesign of its baggage process would include “innovative automation and artificial intelligence solutions”, including “the further development of existing robots in the baggage basement, the production of machines that can unload suitcases, and the development of autonomous vehicles that will drive around the baggage basement to move carts and containers”.

Schiphol’s existing baggage systems measure some 145,000 sqm across several areas – the surface area of around 29 football pitches – with each area having a useful life of around 30 years.

The airport said that several of the areas “will need to be renovated over the coming years”, adding that “to continue guaranteeing baggage reliability, Schiphol must first install a completely new and working system elsewhere”, before existing systems can be tackled.

It will be several years before customers see any benefits from the work though – the tender for the construction of the baggage basement will start this year, with construction expected to begin in 2026.