Address to shareholders
Dear Sir or Madam
Although we experienced slower growth than in recent years, we can look back on a successful financial year. At around 31.5 million, once again we hit an all-time record in passenger numbers. We were again able to cope with these high traffic volumes thanks to forward planning, a motivated workforce and the professional cooperation of all the airport’s partner companies. Our major construction project THE CIRCLE is on track for a phased opening in the course of 2020. Further major building projects such as the expansion of the baggage system or the landside passenger areas, which are essential for the further development of Zurich Airport, are also proceeding on schedule and on budget. At a regulatory level, among other things we have concerns about operating hours, which are crucial for intercontinental flights to and from Switzerland, and airport charges, which have a major influence on our ability to invest. Pleasing news in relation to the development of our international business is winning the concessions for operating Vitória and Macaé airports in Brazil and the contract for a greenfield project in Noida near New Delhi in India.
PASSENGER VOLUMES AND KEY FINANCIAL DATA
Last year, 31.5 million passengers passed through Zurich Airport or to be precise, 31,507,692. Compared with the previous year this is an increase of 1.3%. The number of local passengers rose by 0.1% to 22.2 million. The transfer passenger share came to 29.3% (2018: 28.4%) and the number of transfer passengers at Zurich Airport went up by 4.2% to 9.2 million.
days with over 100,000 passengers
More than 100,000 passengers passed through Zurich Airport on 70 days.
Flight movements totalled 275,329 in 2019, down 1.1% from the prior-year period. Freight volumes were down by 8.4% compared with 2018. A total of 451,827 tonnes of freight were transported.
In the 2019 financial year, Flughafen Zürich AG's revenue grew by CHF 57.2 million to CHF 1,210.1 million (+5.0%). Of the total revenue, approximately 55% was attributable to aviation and 45% to non-aviation business. After deducting operating expenses amounting to CHF 568.3 million and depreciation of CHF 238.7 million, earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) came to CHF 403.1 million (2018: CHF 326.5 million). In the previous year this result was affected by a one-off amount of CHF 57.6 million for the increase of the provision for sound insulation measures.
Consolidated profit for the financial year just ended amounted to CHF 309.1 million, up CHF 71.3 million from the previous year. The above-mentioned additional provisions (CHF 45.8 million after taxes) for sound insulation measures had depressed the result of the prior-year period. When adjusted to take account of this one-off effect, profit was lifted year on year by CHF 25.5 million or 9.0%.
An adequate return on invested capital is an important prerequisite for future investment in a high-quality and efficient aviation infrastructure in Switzerland. As all investments at Zurich Airport are financed by private equity, a stable and predictable regulatory environment is crucial.
The Federal Council approved the Ordinance on Airport Charges on 14 June 2019. We welcome the fact that the Swiss government decided not to alter the economic parameters, counter to FOCA's original proposal. On the other hand, however, we regret that no corresponding adjustment was made to the formula for calculating a reasonable return on invested capital. The ordinance came into force on 1 August 2019. It now forms the basis for future airport charge-setting rounds.
On 6 November 2019, FOCA decided that airport charges (excluding noise and emission charges) were to be cut by 15% from 1 April 2020. We have lodged a challenge to this decision in the courts and the matter is still pending. We have already planned a significant reduction in charges for the upcoming charging period and are expecting a drop in aviation revenues.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
“The airport charges are the basis for financing the aviation infrastructure and enable the constant renewal and expansion of Zurich Airport to its acknowledged high standards.”
Despite the prevailing challenging business climate, we were able to maintain our high standards of quality as an airport operator and further optimise our passenger processes thanks to the excellent cooperation of all airport partners involved. The following issues occupied us in particular during the year under review:
BRINGING FORWARD THE LAST SLOTS
FOCA had instructed Flughafen Zürich AG to investigate bringing forward its last slots from at present 10:55 p.m. for arrivals and 10:45 p.m. for take-offs to 10:30 p.m. in terms of operational feasibility, economic viability and the impact on noise exposure. Flughafen Zürich AG commissioned an expert report which it submitted to FOCA in May 2019. This report showed that bringing forward the last slots would have serious negative ramifications for the Swiss economy’s access to key world markets and for the competitiveness of Swiss airlines. Although it would contribute to noise abatement in the late evening, it would greatly jeopardise the airport’s hub operations and its intercontinental flights. From the point of view of the airport operator, bringing forward the last slots is incompatible with its mandate to safeguard intercontinental connections, which is why we have asked FOCA to abandon the idea. FOCA’s decision is still pending and will presumably be notified in the course of the proceedings relating to the 2017 amendments to our operating regulations.
INCREASE IN NOISE CHARGES
FOCA has approved Flughafen Zürich AG’s proposal for higher noise charges during shoulder periods and at night. The revised charges came into force on 10 September 2019. As well as incentivising airlines to use quieter aircraft, the new rules aim to motivate them to step up their efforts to reduce delays and schedule as few flights as possible during particularly sensitive times of day. Owing to the in some cases significantly higher noise charges after 11 p.m., it was possible to discern a corrective effect after just a short time.
CHANGES TO THE ROUTE NETWORK
Our hub carrier Swiss International Air Lines has expanded its European offering. Edelweiss Air as well as British Airways, Aegean Airlines and Icelandair, among others, have increased some frequencies. Air Canada has added flights on its Zurich-Vancouver route.
Some destinations also disappeared from the route network during the reporting year. For instance, Sichuan Airlines dropped its flights to Chengdu, and Air China stopped flying to Beijing. Korean Air suspended its flights from Seoul to Zurich at the end of 2019.
AIRPORT INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
UPGRADING AND EXPANSION OF THE BAGGAGE SYSTEM
This project encompasses a new building to increase the capacity of the existing baggage sorting system by around one third, the replacement of many parts of the system, and a larger early bag store. The dismantling and excavation work was completed during the first half of 2019, and the new building is now under construction. The first major technical upgrading commenced in autumn 2019 with the replacement of the old baggage transport system in the baggage tunnel. Flughafen Zürich AG is investing some CHF 500 million in modernising and expanding the baggage sorting system. Completion of the overall project is scheduled for 2025.
INVESTMENTS IN AIRPORT INFRASTRUCTURE
Around CHF 500 million is being invested in modernising and expanding the baggage sorting system.
BUILDING PROJECTS IN THE MAIN AIRPORT COMPLEX
2019 saw the commencement of the expansion of landside passenger areas, representing an investment of approximately CHF 275 million. The structural alterations at the South Bus Terminal have been completed, and alternative stands are in place. The building work for links to THE CIRCLE is on track and is scheduled for completion in mid-2020 in good time, ahead of THE CIRCLE’s opening date. The new landside passenger areas are scheduled to come on stream in stages from the summer of 2024. These will include new retail outlets, underground logistics and a food hall above ground.
AIRSIDE BUILDING PROJECTS
After many years tied up in legal proceedings, the second of the two new high-speed taxiways for runway 28 came into operation in May 2019. Since then, thanks to frequent use of these taxiways, it has been possible to reduce the runway occupancy time for landings on runway 28 as very few aircraft now need to taxi the full length of the runway. When using the north and east concepts, the new taxiways and the taxiway routing around runway 28 made it possible to greatly reduce the total of over 100,000 runway crossings per year across runway 28 and thus increase the safety margin. Flughafen Zürich AG submitted the respective planning application to FOCA in November 2019. It also submitted a planning application in October 2019 for a building including hangar space and landside infrastructure for business aviation in Zone West.
Chief Executive Officer
“If the airport is to keep up with the constantly rising demand we have to chart a course now for the major development projects of the future.”
The political process for seeking consent to extend runways 28 and 32 will commence in 2020. It can be assumed that voters in the Canton of Zurich will ultimately decide in a referendum whether the extensions will go ahead. The planning work was completed in 2019. The runway extensions are a key element of our efforts to provide dependable operations without delays in the evenings, because when the east concept is used they will ensure significantly greater stability in the event of adverse weather conditions, reduce distances on the ground, and cut the number of crossings on the ground and in the air.
REVENUE GROWTH AND NEW CONCEPTS
In the publicly accessible airport shopping areas, Globus launched a Globus Delicatessa & Bar, and Nespresso set up a 24-hour sales terminal. Foodland welcomed a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. A Coop Vitality pharmacy opened for the first time at Check-in 2, along with a second branch of the popular chocolate brand Läderach. In addition, the landside and airside launch of Pret A Manger represented the first Swiss outlets of the well-known British takeaway chain. Two large restaurants in the Airside Center are undergoing makeovers: the former Walter is now serving delicious Italian food under the name of Villa Antinori da Bindella, while the Center Bar has added seating and is now offering guests Asian cuisine as the Center Bar and Kitchen. The Rolex Boutique and the Bucherer multibrand store have been operating since the spring. Further additions include the luxury brands Moncler, Bottega Veneta and Longchamp, along with Globus Accessories and Grieder with prêt-à-porter fashion and accessories for women.
OBERHAU CAR PARK
Continued growth in local passenger numbers will result in a shortage of parking spaces at Zurich Airport within the foreseeable future. We are therefore planning a multi-storey car park with around 3,000 parking spaces in Oberhau, adjacent to the Balsberg stop on the Glattalbahn tram line. Following lengthy proceedings over a number of years, on 9 October 2019 the Federal Supreme Court decided to overrule the federal government’s planning consent for the Oberhau car park and to refer the matter back to the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) for reconsideration. It is now also necessary to include the parking spaces provided by off-airport parking providers in the parking statistics for Flughafen Zürich AG. This is done by means of a counter in their approach lanes.
Two years after the foundation stone was laid, THE CIRCLE’s joint ownership company celebrated the topping-out of this major construction project in March 2019. During the year under review we were able to welcome numerous new tenants, for instance Edelweiss Air, management consultants Horváth & Partners, Globus, SAP, Hyatt International, Läderach (Switzerland) AG and Valora Schweiz AG. Further service providers have also come on board, including a family-run hairdressing business and a beauty clinic. Flughafen Zürich AG is planning to move into THE CIRCLE in the spring of 2020, while the public opening will be in September 2020. As a go-to destination, THE CIRCLE will significantly shape the landside aspect of the airport and will greatly enhance the prestige of the address and the airport experience as a whole. By providing a recreational public space, the airport park will also contribute to this. It is likewise due to open in the course of 2020.
THE CIRCLE OPENING
September 2020 will see the first stages in the opening of THE CIRCLE at Zurich Airport.
Shortly before the end of the year, Flughafen Zürich AG bought a total of 36 buildings and plots of land from Priora Suisse AG. The acquisition of the Priora portfolio is strategically important for Flughafen Zürich AG and the demand-led development of the airport, especially in relation to the modernisation and expansion of areas to the south, east and west. These include, for example, freight areas or new developments for aircraft ground handling, as well as the building of new infrastructure for business aviation and hangars. The airport (excluding the purchased properties) covers approximately 1.25 million square metres. The addition of the Priora portfolio increased the rentable space by 10%.
Our international business ventures progressed well in 2019. On 15 March 2019 we were awarded the concessions for two new airports in Brazil (Vitória and Macaé), both with a 100% stake. We celebrated the opening of the new terminal at Florianópolis airport in Brazil on 1 October. And at the end of November 2019, we won the contract to develop, build and operate Delhi Noida International Airport in India. This operating licence will run for 40 years and also marks the continuation of our success story in India following our involvement in Bangalore. The high Swiss standards of corporate governance continue to apply to Flughafen Zürich AG also in its operations abroad. Environmental and social aspects are always important considerations when exploring projects and form the basis for the sustainable development of this area of our business.
Various matters relating to the Swiss aviation industry were once again discussed in the Swiss Parliament in the year under review. In particular, the flight ticket levy planned as part of the revised CO2 Act will give us much to think about in the coming year. We contend that an isolated solution for Switzerland does not make sense in a global aviation industry and that unilateral measures by individual countries will not help to stop climate change. If a levy on flight tickets is nevertheless introduced in Switzerland, the money must be specifically earmarked for promoting alternative fuels or developing new aviation technologies in order to ensure effective action to counter climate change.
Despite the rising demand for air travel from business and society and the concomitant increase in building footprints and passenger volumes, as an infrastructure provider Flughafen Zürich AG has succeeded in almost halving its CO2 emissions since 1990. Moreover, the company has voluntarily set itself the goal of reducing its CO2 emissions to zero by 2050.
OUTLOOK AND THANKS
Flughafen Zürich AG is operationally, financially and strategically well placed. Thanks to our very high quality standards and cost-conscious approach, we have been able to maintain our competitiveness and further strengthen profitability by expanding our corporate activities with THE CIRCLE and our international business. As Switzerland’s sole intercontinental air transport hub, we still need to be able to develop the airport in a prudent and sustainable way. To do this, however, we are also reliant on a conducive political environment. The prosperity of Switzerland is crucially dependent on its ability to generate wealth internationally, which in turn is dependent on our country being globally accessible.
We would like to thank all partners and supporters of Zurich Airport, and especially our employees for their exceptional commitment to our company and to Zurich Airport in general.
Chairman of the Board of Directors
Chief Executive Officer