The Swiss army is investing millions to renovate the runway at Sion Airport ahead of its wider use by civil aviation. The Swiss air force is due to officially withdraw from the facility between 2017 and 2020.
In total, CHF13million ($13.2 million) will be invested until 2019 to adapt the runway and other facilities at the airport in the heart of canton Valais, close to resorts such as Crans Montana, Verbier and Zermatt.
A new 16,000 square metre (172,000 square foot) tarmac runway will be laid and the control tower will be renovated. Other work is planned up until 2019.
The Swiss air force currently uses Sion as one of its four jet fighter air bases, alongside Payerne, Meiringen and Emmen. The air force is due to withdraw from Sion between 2017 and 2020 as part of an internal reorganisation.
Commercial airlines have been eyeing Sion airport, especially for winter service during ski season.
In August, Swiss International Airlines announced that it plans to provide a regular service between Sion and London City Airport, if a series of test flights beginning early next year prove successful.
An Embraer 190 aircraft, which can transport 100 people, will be used for the journey between the British capital and Sion each Saturday in February 2017.
Other flights are also underway or being planned. In May 2016, Etihad Regional started a weekly service between Sion and the Swiss city of Lugano in canton Ticino. In summer, Air Glaciers also organises charter flights between the Valais capital and Corsica, St Tropez in France and the Italian island of Elba.
From April 23 to October 25, 2017, Helvetic Airways will start a regular weekly service to Palma Majorca from Sion.
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