Pandemic puts Geneva Airport in the red for first time 

Coronavirus travel restrictions have hit Geneva Airport passenger numbers hard and put its accounts in the red for the first time. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

Geneva Airport recorded a loss of CHF129.5 million ($145 million) in 2020, owing to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

This content was published on February 16, 2021 - 16:00

This compares with a profit of CHF84.1 million in 2019, the airport said on Tuesday. 

The loss, which is the first in its history, was due to the slump in passenger numbers caused by international travel restrictions. In 2020, a little over 5 million passengers embarked or disembarked at Geneva airport, which was 69% fewer than in 2019.  

The number of take-offs and landings also fell sharply. In the year as a whole, 86,353 aircraft movements were recorded, a drop of 54 per cent compared to the previous year. 

Cost cuts and job losses 

To cushion the shock as much as possible, Geneva Airport said it postponed dozens of projects and also turned the cost screw. After the record CHF250 million of the previous year, investments were reduced to just under CHF135 million, while personnel costs were cut by 12% and operating costs by 40%.  

The airport benefitted from short-time work subsidies, but still had to cut some 30 full-time jobs compared with the end of 2019.  

“Our job today is to avoid jeopardising the future of the airport,” Geneva Airport Director André Schneider told Swiss public broadcaster RTS on Tuesday. “We are prepared to take the necessary measures, as we did last year, when we were able to cut costs massively. But on the other hand, if traffic resumes, we have to make sure that we have the staff and infrastructure to be able to handle it.” 

Schneider said he expects air traffic to pick up again in 2024 to “enable us to rebuild our losses and return to pre-crisis financial health over the next ten years”. 

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