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Coronavirus hits Zurich airport results hard  

Parked Swiss International Air Lines airplanes at Zurich airport on April 17, 2020 Keystone / Ennio Leanza


This content was published on August 21, 2020 - 10:09
Zurich airport/swissinfo.ch/ilj

Covid-19 has had a severe economic impact on Zurich airport, with a near-total collapse in revenues at times, according to first half results. 

Switzerland’s largest international airport posted a loss of CHF27.5 million ($30.3 million) for the first six months of 2020. This compares to a profit of CHF143.4 million in the first half of 2019.  

In the first six months of 2020, 5.3 million passengers used Zurich airport, a decrease of 64.3% compared with the same period in 2019. The number of flight movements went down by 55.5% between January and June 2020. 

“The coronavirus crisis has had a severe economic impact on the entire aviation industry and on Flughafen Zürich AG [the airport’s operator]. At times, there was a near-total collapse in revenues, which is reflected in first-half business performance,” company CEO Stephan Widrig said in a statement on FridayExternal link

However, the airport did manage earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of CHF 104.9 million, even if this was a third of the amount in 2019. 

Crisis measures 

During the crisis, the airport operator introduced short-time working and took various measures to secure liquidity. There is expected to be further substantial cuts in capital expenditure and costs over the coming months and years, the statement continued.  

The airport stayed open during the spring – the height of the pandemic when Switzerland went into nationwide lockdown and air traffic was almost at a standstill – to accommodate air freight, repatriation and ambulance flights, alongside a few passenger flights. 

There are signs of a slow recovery since the gradual reopening of borders in June, the statement continued, with the expectation that the travel sector would start its recovery in Europe. But it is likely to be several years before the intercontinental market fully recovers, it added. 

“We are confident that international air traffic will recover over the long term,” said Widrig. 

Outlook 

“It is difficult to issue a reliable forecast for the current financial year, owing to considerable uncertainty over the further course of the coronavirus crisis,” the statement added. 

A loss is anticipated for the current financial year. 

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