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Airport strives to become "the" meeting place

The new Eventdock has a range of entertainments

(Keystone)

Zurich airport's dock B, which has lain dormant for nearly two years, has been reopened as an entertainment centre in a bid to claw back revenues.

Renamed the "Eventdock" after a SFr10 million ($7.86 million) refit, the building opened its doors again this month as airport operator Unique posted disappointing half-year results.

Net profit at Zurich airport fell 7.3 per cent to SFr3.8 million ($3 million) in the first six months of 2005 compared with SFr4.1 million ($3.27 million) in the corresponding period last year.

Unique subsequently admitted that its previous full year forecast of a 50 per cent profit increase was now over-ambitious, but is confident of boosting turnover in the second half partly by attracting more non-flying customers to the airport to visit the Eventdock.

"We hope the airport will become 'the' meeting centre in the region," said Unique spokesman Marc Rauch. "Nearly half of our income derives from non-aviation business. We aim to expand on that to become less dependent on air traffic for our business."

Dock B was closed in October 2003 after a sharp fall in passenger numbers, sparked by the September 11 attacks in the United States and the collapse of Swissair a month later, torpedoed plans to expand the airport.

The Dock was formerly used to process departing and arriving passengers, but is now holding a seven-week programme of entertainment events. One part of the package will be an auction of Swissair memorabilia on September 24 and 25.

The collection of 3,800 items traces the history of Swissair through posters, aircraft models, photographs, log books, charts, artwork, books and other items – many of them original.

Touching down

Auctioneers Troostwijk believe the sale will generate a lot of interest, but the firm could not put an estimate on potential earnings as many items are unique. The sale of Swiss memorabilia in 2003 raised some SFr5 million ($3.98 million).

Another auction due to take place is the sale of some 150 model teddy bears on October 1 that have been a feature of the city of Zurich this summer.

Other events include the AIRWORLD exhibition, featuring models of Zurich and other airports, airline uniforms through the years and video clips filmed from the cockpit of planes landing.

The programme, which runs until October 2, also includes DJ nights, live music, films, fashion shows and an Indian festival run in association with the United Nations Children's Fund.

The 8,000-square-metre space, which can hold 3,300 people, will then be rented out for exhibitions and business functions at a rate of up to SFr32,000 ($25,000) a day.

Unique hopes to recoup around two-thirds of the SFr10 million refit costs and say they would be required to spend the same amount again on new health and safety measures to reopen terminal B for passengers. The future of the building will be reviewed in five years' time.

The airport's operators also stress that security around the Eventdock will be tight, with regular security patrols and surveillance.

swissinfo, Matthew Allen in Zurich

Key facts

Renovation work to turn terminal B into a leisure centre cost SFr10 million ($7.86 million).
After the special programme of events, which runs until October 2, the building will be available for hire at a cost of up to SFr32,000 ($25,000) a day.
Terminal B stopped serving passengers in October 2003.

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