Zurich airport opens flagship commercial project to public

Zurich airport's commercial and leisure project went ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic. Zurich Airport

Zurich airport has opened its CHF1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) conferencing, leisure and retail complex to the public – right in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic that has reduced air travel to a trickle.

This content was published on November 5, 2020 - 14:58

‘The Circle’ project, designed by Japanese architect Riken Yamamoto, contains two hotels, a medical centre, a large conferencing centre, office space, restaurants, an area for retailers to show off products and engage with customers, plus leisure facilities.

“We realise that we are opening the Circle in a challenging time,” said Zurich Airport’s Stefan FeldmannExternal link, adding that this will not stop other attractions being added to the venue in the coming months.

In the first six months of this year, passenger numbers fell 64.3% with little prospect of business returning to normal until 2024. This has resulted in a CHF27.5 million ($30.3 million) first half loss for Switzerland’s busiest airport.

But this has not stopped the airport from opening the doors to the public for its 200,000 square metre flagship project, that has been many years in the making. The Circle is co-owned by the airport operators and insurance giant Swiss Life.

Zurich is not the only international airport to have the misfortune of running into the pandemic during an expansion phase. Berlin’s brand new Brandenburg airport finally opened last month after a decade of costly delays.

Last year, Singapore’s Changi airport opened its 1.5 million square foot Jewel shopping and leisure complex. The airport said last month that revenues from the centre had helped soften the blow of Covid-19 but it has still seen profits slump, forcing the suspension of a planned fifth terminal.

Presenting its half-year results in August, Zurich Airport said it has binding agreements to let out 80% of the Circle’s designated floor space, a proportion that it expects to rise to 85% by the end of the year.

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