Most heads of state and ministers, as well as other participants at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), travel to Davos by helicopter. They land at the temporary heliport Stilli, which has been run by Jürgen Rüegg for ten years. (Kristian Kapp, swissinfo.ch)
If the weather is good, the Stilli heliport in Davos is a hive of activity, with up to 500 helicopters taking off and landing during WEF week. They are carrying not only heads of state but also “civilian” participants. All of them land at Jürgen Rüegg’s heliport.
Rüegg, who has lived in Davos since 1991, is a policeman by trade. For him, the WEF annual meeting was always connected to work, initially cordoning off secure areas and with the security staff. For 12 years he’s been in charge of police helicopter missions. In 2017, for the tenth time, this includes setting up and dismantling the Davos heliport.
Helicopters, mostly from Zurich but also Geneva or Milan, land here 24 hours a day, although these are only the military flights carrying so-called internationally protected people such as heads of state. For everyone else, the official “opening times” are 8am to 22pm.
During WEF, Rüegg works on average 14 hours a day, with the cold being part of the job. “It’s winter. Everything’s frozen. You’re cold most of the time,” he says. Indeed, when swissinfo.ch visited, the mercury was showing -19C.
The military flights have priority – they are after all the reason the heliport is set up. Civilian transport companies wouldn’t be able to afford their own heliport, therefore they use Jürgen Rüegg’s.