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SWISS Airbus A220 Arrives In Bilbao Without Passenger Luggage


  • A Swiss International Air Lines flight arrived in Bilbao without any passenger luggage due to a lack of ground-handling staff at the airport.
  • The aviation industry is facing staff shortages across various business segments, including pilots, mechanics, and ground staff.
  • The pandemic has had a significant impact on the aviation industry, resulting in job losses and a decrease in the number of people returning to the sector.

A Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A220 aircraft arrived in Bilbao without a single checked passenger luggage last weekend. According to a report by CNN, the incident happened due to the lack of ground-handling staff at the airport.

Incident details

The SWISS Airbus A220, registered as HB-JBC, took off from Zurich International Airport (ZRH) and landed at Bilbao Airport (BIO) in Spain, according to The flight tracker shows that the flight was delayed by more than an hour and landed at Bilbao Airport at 8:11 PM local Spain time.

The flight crew waited for more than an hour, hoping the ground staff would load the bags onto the plane. Eventually, they made the decision to depart for Bilbao without the baggage. Flight WK226 took off without them to guarantee it could return to Zurich before the nighttime flight ban took effect.

It is worth noting that take-offs and landings for commercial flights are possible from 06:00 until 00:30 in Switzerland. No departure slot is granted after 22:00, and no arrival slot after 00:00. This is to limit the exposure to aircraft noise pollution during the night hours when the majority of residents are trying to sleep.

Swiss Airbus A220-300 airplanes at Zurich Airport.

Photo: Markus Mainka/Shutterstock

After the passengers were disembarked, they spent over two hours waiting in anticipation at a baggage carousel for their luggage, but in vain, according to the Swiss-German newspaper Blick.

A SWISS spokesperson told CNN that it was possible to deliver most of the luggage to Bilbao the following day. The spokesperson added that SWISS is currently reviewing their processes. Simple Flying has asked SWISS for a comment.

Staff shortage across the aviation sector

Traveling over the past couple of years didn’t go as expected. The aviation industry has been wrestling with staff shortages across various business segments, including pilots, mechanics, and maintenance and ground staff.

According to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the aviation industry will need 480,000 new technicians to maintain aircraft and over 350,000 pilots by 2026. However, meeting this demand for additional specialists in the sector may not be straightforward.

Attracting new specialists to an industry known for long hours and physically demanding work is also challenging. The pandemic has also left its mark, with people who were laid off during the period not returning to this industry. According to a report by Oxford Economics, the aviation sector has lost more than 2.3 million jobs since 2019, which is 21% less than before the global COVID-19 pandemic.

SWISS Airbus A330

Photo: Vincenzo Pace/Shutterstock

Labor shortages have become so severe that in October 2022, London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) limited its daily passenger capacity to 100,000 travelers due to its inability to meet the high demand.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever experienced such a situation? Let us know in the comments section below.

Sources: Oxford Economics, ICAO, CNN, Blick,


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