Geneva Airport expects 23% fewer passengers in 2021

With the re-opening of borders on June 15, passengers have started to return to Geneva, and the results are encouraging, say officials, but numbers are still well down. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

Geneva Airport officials say the shockwaves of the Covid-19 pandemic will reverberate into next year, with the number of passengers flying to and from the airport expected to be down by almost a quarter compared with pre-coronavirus levels, according to Swiss public radio, RTS.

This content was published on August 31, 2020 - 12:20
RTS/sb

Geneva Airport Director General André Schneider described the current situation as “extremely fragile” in an email sent to staff on Friday, which has been seen by RTS.

He wrote that passenger numbers next year are expected to be down by 23% compared with 2019 and figures will not return to normal before 2022, RTS reported.

Schneider said he was studying all possible options to make savings “both in terms of investments on operational expenditure and personnel costs”, according to RTS. Measures such as a hiring freeze and early retirement for certain staff remain in place.

Uncertainties

Geneva Airport, like other Swiss facilities, has been badly hit by the pandemic. Between March and June, it was pretty much at a standstill, with only 6-8 flights a day. With the re-opening of borders on June 15, passengers have started to return to Geneva, and the results are encouraging, officials wrote in early August.

But passenger numbers are still well down. On July 19, the airport welcomed 16,230 travellers – 30% fewer than the same period last year.

The airport still faces many Covid-related uncertainties, such as the worsening virus situation in France, which is responsible for 30% of passengers, and whether British and other skiers will fly to Geneva this winter for their holidays in the French and Swiss Alps.

Zurich

Switzerland’s largest international airport, in Zurich, is also struggling with the pandemic, with a near-total collapse in revenues during its peak.

It posted a loss of CHF27.5 million ($30.3 million) for the first six months of 2020. This compares with 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. 

There are also signs of a slow recovery in Zurich since the gradual re-opening of borders in June. But it is likely to be several years before the intercontinental market fully recovers, experts say.

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