Flughafen Zürich AG reported a profit of CHF 143.4 million for the first half of 2019. This represents an increase of CHF 58.9 million compared with the same period in 2018, which had been negatively impacted by additional provisions for sound insulation measures. After adjusting for this one-off effect, profit rose by CHF 13.1 million (+10.1%).

Business review

Trend in traffic volume

Between January and June 2019, 14.9 million passengers used Zurich Airport as their departure, transfer or destination airport, representing an increase of 2.4% over the prior-year period. The number of local passengers rose by 1.1%, while transfer passengers recorded an increase of 5.7%. As a result, the proportion of transfer passengers went up from 28.4% to 29.3% compared with the prior-year period. Markets in all regions performed well. While the European market grew by 0.4%, the number of passengers heading for intercontinental destinations increased by 8.4%.

The number of flight movements climbed by 0.9% to 135,871 take-offs and landings in the first half of 2019. The seat load factor per flight movement fell from 76.7% to 75.9%, while the average number of passengers per flight movement (scheduled and charter) remained stable at 125. Compared with the prior-year period, the volume of freight handled at Zurich Airport fell by 7.5% to 226,003 tonnes.

Financial development

Trend in total revenue

Revenue grew by 8.8% compared with the first half of 2018 to CHF 588.0 million. In line with the growth in traffic, aviation revenue rose by 2.1% to CHF 315.4 million. Non-aviation revenue increased by 17.9% to CHF 272.6 million. This was primarily due to the increase in revenue from commercial operations and higher earnings from international airport business. In particular as a result of expansion of the infrastructure at Florianópolis airport in Brazil, revenue from the latter rose to CHF 67.7 million in the first half of 2019 (prior-year period: CHF 31.9 million).

Operating expenses

Operating expenses fell year on year by CHF 16.3 million to CHF 284.3 million, following the hike of CHF 57.6 million (before taxes) in last yearʼs cost basis due to expansion of the sound insulation programme. After adjusting for this one-off effect, operating expenses rose by 17.0%, primarily as a result of the development of the infrastructure in Florianópolis. Operating expenses in Zurich went up by 2.5%.

Operating result and profit

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 26.8% to CHF 303.7 million. Factoring out the one-off effect in the prior-year period, EBITDA improved by 2.2%. The EBITDA margin stood at 51.6% for the first half of 2019.

Profit in the first half of 2019 amounted to CHF 143.4 million, up CHF 58.9 million on the result for the prior-year period. Additional provisions (CHF 45.8 million after taxes) for sound insulation measures in the first half of 2018 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 10.1% to CHF 13.1 million.

Segment reporting

In the regulated business segment, higher revenues resulting from the growth in traffic volumes were largely offset by the increase in operating expenses, so at CHF 74.6 million there was little significant change in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) for regulated business compared with the prior-year period (CHF 74.4 million). Owing to the lower levels of average capital employed, the corresponding return on invested capital rose year on year from 6.7% to 7.6%.

Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) for non-regulated business increased from CHF 97.6 million in the first half of 2018 to CHF 111.3 million for the same period in 2019. This increase was attributable to higher revenues from commercial and parking operations on the one hand and to lower depreciation on the other hand. As the average invested capital likewise rose as a result of THE CIRCLE construction project, the corresponding return on capital fell marginally from 11.8% to 11.6% in comparison with the same period in 2018.

Assets and financial position

Non-current assets of CHF 3.6 billion as at 30 June 2019 were on a par with the 2018 year-end figure. Besides THE CIRCLE, the biggest ongoing projects at the Zurich site in the first half of 2019 were the upgrading and extension of the baggage system as well as the upgrading of the power supply systems for airside operating areas. Construction work on the new terminal at the airport in Florianópolis, Brazil, was another large project.

Invested capital as at mid-2019 – adjusted for the noise component – was CHF 3.4 billion (prior-year period: CHF 3.3 billion), and return on invested capital (ROIC) was 9.4% (prior-year period: 8.8%).


Flughafen Zürich AG expects passenger growth of around 2% in 2019. Excluding one-off effects, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) and profit for the 2019 financial year are expected to be higher than for the previous year. Investments in 2019 will be in the region of CHF 350 million.


Population growth, economic development, the increasing internationalisation of business and research, along with our modern lifestyles, are all driving a rising demand for global mobility. This is having a direct impact on our airport, and we have been experiencing capacity constraints at peak times for many years now. As the airportʼs operator, we need to plan for the long term. We need to consider today what changes to the airportʼs infrastructure are required if we are to meet the projected growth in demand. We are concerned about airspace congestion in Europe. A shortage of air traffic controllers in some territories this year once again resulted in restrictions that had a knock-on effect on punctuality – also at Zurich Airport. Close cooperation with our partners SWISS and Skyguide is helping us mitigate capacity constraints wherever possible in order to optimise punctuality – which is vital for operational efficiency. Short-term measures are having some effect, but they are not enough. Achieving better separation of take-offs and landings on the ground and in the air as well as implementation of the new “bise” concept for north-east winds will eventually bring relief over the long term. Although some initial steps have been taken, these measures have not yet been completed so we will have to operate with the situation as it is for some time. As one of the first measures to be implemented, May 2019 saw the completion of the second high-speed taxiway for runway 28.


In November 2018, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) presented its proposals for a partial revision of the Ordinance on Airport Charges. The specific changes proposed aimed to substantially increase the amount of economic added value siphoned off from non-aviation business (cross-subsidisation). The Flughafen Zürich AG share reacted with a sharp fall in price to this announcement.

On 14 June this year, the Federal Council approved the revised charges ordinance. There was no increase in the percentage of cross-subsidisation: 30% of the economic added value generated by our airside commercial activities and vehicle parking will continue to subsidise our regulated business operations. Although Flughafen Zürich AG believed a change would be necessary to enable us to maintain our long-term investment strength in the face of ongoing low or negative interest rates, the formula for calculating an appropriate return on invested capital also remained unchanged. The ordinance comes into force on 1 August 2019. It will therefore form the basis for the upcoming round of setting airport charges for the next charging period. We are expecting a substantial decrease in aviation revenues over the next charging period.


FOCA has approved Flughafen Zürich AGʼs proposal for substantially higher noise charges during shoulder periods and at night. In order not to jeopardise Zurich Airportʼs hub operations, the increase in shoulder and night-time surcharges will not be applied to hub-relevant airlines for flights taking off or landing between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. and between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. The higher charges will, however, apply to flights between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. The new rules aim to incentivise airlines to use quieter aircraft and schedule as few flights as possible during particularly sensitive times of day. The higher airport charges will come into effect in mid-September 2019.


The Swiss Federal Supreme Court has reached a decision in the first three (of six) test cases relating to overflying Nürensdorf. In its ruling, the court confirmed the three judgments of the Federal Administrative Court of 7 February 2018 and granted the claimants appropriate compensation. Another nine analogous claims are pending in Nürensdorf, which can now likewise be dealt with. The question of compensation payments for residents under the wider overflight corridor remains open. A further test case relating to the latter is currently before the Federal Administrative Court. The judgment has no direct impact on provisions of CHF 350 million set aside to meet the estimated costs for formal expropriations.


The summer flight timetable is generally more densely packed and wide-ranging, and once more there are numerous additions in 2019. For example: Swiss International Air Lines now flies to Danzig four times a week and, as of May 2019, to Heringsdorf once a week. Its service to Bremen continues with twelve flights a week. Edelweiss Air now flies to Tirana twice weekly and to Ohrid up to twice a week. Air Canada is operating a B787 to Vancouver five times a week. United Airlines has resumed its seasonal daily service between San Francisco and Zurich with a B787. British Airways is increasing its evening services by five flights a week to London City Airport. Air Serbia is extending its service, with 19 flights a week to the Serbian capital Belgrade. Cathay Pacific has switched to the Airbus A350-1000 for its service to Hong Kong, thereby increasing the capacity of each flight by 59 seats.


Over the years the number of peak days on which over 100,000 passengers have been recorded has been steadily rising. It went up from 22 in 2017 to 63 last year, and 90 is predicted for the current summer timetable running until the end of October 2019. During this yearʼs summer holidays, as many as 115,000 passengers were recorded on certain days. We can only cope with the enormous strain this puts on our system thanks to the great commitment of all our partner companies at the airport who – as well as laying on extra staff – bring their wealth of experience in tightly coordinating passenger processes.


During the first half of the year, Zurich Airport was the recipient of no less than three awards in recognition of its excellent quality standards. It was among the winners of the 2018 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award in the category 25–40 million passengers in Europe. Following on from 2006 and 2008, this is the third time that Zurich Airport has taken first place in an ASQ Award. The ASQ Awards are presented annually by Airports Council International (ACI) World, the international umbrella organisation for airport operators. For customer-friendliness and its high-quality products and services, the World Travel Award named Zurich Europeʼs leading airport for no less than the sixteenth time in succession. Zurich was also presented with the Skytrax Award for the “Worldʼs Best Airport Security” in recognition of its short queuing times, high security standards and the professionalism of its security personnel.



Thanks to rising passenger numbers, airside revenues showed positive growth during the first half of the year. As well as the opening of a new Rolex boutique, structural changes to the eating facilities in the gate areas and various alterations were made as part of the new Hudson newsstand concept. Despite this construction work, the luxury goods segment encompassing watches, jewellery and accessories posted above-average growth. In particular, the targeted use of digital channels enabled the growing number of travellers from Asia to be directly informed about offerings at Zurich Airport already ahead of their journey. Specifically, our airside partners were invited to present their products on Chinese channels and also to conduct any special sales promotions.

Despite the impact of several remodelling projects during the first half of the year, revenues from the landside retail and café/restaurant segment rose by around 1%. Landside, our premium offering was strengthened with a Nespresso boutique plus the opening of a Globus Delicatessa and Globus Bar.


Two years after the foundation stone was laid, in March 2019 we celebrated the topping-out of this major construction project. The building work is proceeding apace, and this new destination is on track to open in stages from mid-2020. Great progress has been made in attracting tenants, and the leasing situation is buoyant. Further rental contracts were signed during the first half of the year, including with Globus and the fast-growing management consulting firm Horváth & Partners.

With its varied occupancy mix, THE CIRCLE will enrich the whole region, both culturally and economically. An 80,000 m2 park is being created right next to it. This recreational space will put nature experiences centre stage and seek to achieve a balance between nature and recreational use by the parkʼs visitors. The park will be opened at the same time as THE CIRCLE.


We face the challenge of upgrading the vital infrastructure underpinning our passenger operations before the next phase in the life of the airport – when passenger volumes are expected to hit around 50 million – and constructing new buildings where necessary. A number of related construction projects are already underway:


Among other things, this multi-year project involves upgrading and expanding the existing baggage sorting system, building a new early bag store, and adding an extension to house the expanded sorting system. The dismantling and excavation work was completed during the first half of 2019, and the extension is now under construction. Due for completion in 2025, the project represents an investment of around CHF 470 million.


This expansion project involves completely redesigning landside passenger routes under the northern part of the bus terminal, upgrading landside and airside logistics, constructing the underground passage to THE CIRCLE, and creating additional retail units and a food hall to expand Airport Shopping. Construction of alternative stands for coaches and taxis has been underway since June of this year. The civil engineering works for the bus terminal are due to begin in January 2020, and the new landside passenger areas are scheduled to come on stream in stages from the summer of 2024.

International activities

Following a public tendering process, in March 2019 Flughafen Zürich AG was awarded the contract to operate airports in Vitória and Macaé in southeastern Brazil. Together, these airports handled some 3.2 million passengers in 2018. Under the terms of the 30-year concession, Flughafen Zürich AG is obliged to invest around CHF 80 million in expanding the airports in the coming years. The new terminal at Florianópolis airport in Brazil is on schedule to open in autumn 2019 after a construction period of just 16 months. Including the two newly acquired airports, Flughafen Zürich AG is currently involved in the operation of eight airports in Latin America. Along with the four airports in Brazil and two in Chile, we are also operating airports in Bogotá and Curaçao.

Andreas Schmid
Chairman of the Board of Directors

Stephan Widrig
Chief Executive Officer