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Zurich Airport faces another loss for 2021

SWISS planes at Zurich airport
Planes belonging to SWISS and Helvetic Airways at Zurich Airport last month Keystone / Michael Buholzer

The Covid pandemic has hit Zurich Airport, one of the biggest employers in the region, hard. But CEO Stephan Widrig says there are sufficient financial resources to get through the crisis, including the Omicron variant.

“We don’t need any state aid even in a difficult 2022, apart from the short-time work compensation,” Widrig told newspaper Blickin an interviewExternal link on Monday. He said short-time work had “helped enormously” and “hardly any” redundancies had been necessary.

He pointed out that infrastructure that requires maintenance “is exactly the same size”, which restricts short-time work in these areas. “At the moment, we’re applying short-time work mainly in units that are directly linked to flight operations, such as bus drivers and airport guides.”

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Widrig said Switzerland’s largest international airport expected ten million passengers in 2021, less than a third compared with 2019, before the pandemic. “That also means we’ll have almost two-thirds less revenue from flight operations. Plus there’ll be lower commercial revenues because of the home office obligation and lower commuter traffic.”

He said that fortunately the company had built up reserves in good times and diversified its business. In 2021, another CHF900 million ($990 million) had been raised in borrowed capital to ensure liquidity.

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Zurich airport at present

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Zurich airport in the red due to Covid-19

This content was published on Switzerland’s largest international airport posted a loss in 2020, hit hard by an almost 75% historic slump in traffic due to the pandemic.

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The airport lost just under CHF70 million for the 2020 financial year. “Zurich Airport is experiencing the biggest crisis in its history. We will certainly have another loss on our books in 2021,” he said.

Widrig reckoned it would take years before unrestricted worldwide travel is restored. At present, he doesn’t expect this to happen before 2025.

“Uncertainties are clearly increasing again for us; the ability to plan in the coming months is noticeably decreasing,” he said. “The spread of Omicron is prolonging the crisis. Much now depends on to what extent and for how long travel is restricted.”

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