Slump delays grand opening of new Zurich terminal

The airport's directors predict a delay of up to two years Keystone Archive

Although Zurich airport's SFr2.1 billion expansion is to be completed on time, the new facilities may not be used for another two years.

This content was published on February 15, 2002 - 16:35

The airport's board of directors has said construction of a new, 500-metre-long terminal and 27 docking bays would be finished by November, as planned. However, the inauguration and operational use of the so-called dock midfield is to be delayed by 12 to 24 months, the board said.

The airport operator, Unique, said the delay was caused by the worldwide slump in air travel and by the loss of business generated by last year's grounding of the Swissair fleet.

Unique said the measure represented a net, annual saving of SFr17 million.

The inauguration date of the dock midfield, to be announced in the autumn, depends on a rise in air traffic volumes, said Unique. Until then, authorities said it was cheaper to press ahead with construction work, rather than interrupt it.

Current low passenger numbers and air traffic levels do not justify the launch of a third terminal, said Jörn Wagenbach, a spokesman for Unique.

An estimated 18.5 people will travel through Zurich airport in 2002, compared with a record-breaking 23 million in 2000, he said. The reduction is attributed to a decrease in passenger travel, and flight changes involving Swissair.

Tighter security

According to Wagenbach, the tightening of security measures in airports following the terrorist attacks of September 11 was another reason for the delay.

Last December's failed attempt to detonate explosives hidden inside sports shoes on a flight to the United States, has resulted in stringent checks on passengers flying to the States, and to Britain, Israel and the Arab Emirates, Wagenbach explained.

The travellers currently have to go through individual departure gates, whereas the new terminal will be equipped only with larger departure gates.

The facilities of the new terminal will change if current security measures stay in force, say Wagenbach.


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