Travel processes and passenger operations
This year has shown that travel is possible provided we take extra precautions. Owing to additional document checks and the need to present test results, travel processes have become more time-consuming. Despite the new challenges, for the most part we were able to keep everything running smoothly thanks to our motivated workforce and the excellent cooperation of all our partner companies at Zurich Airport. The first testing center was opened by external partners in January, and over the year a further seven facilities were added at different locations. Great care continues to be exercised as regards all protective measures implemented at Zurich Airport. In July, the temporarily closed Dock E resumed operation. Check-in 3 was also reopened at times of heavier passenger volumes, in particular during the holiday period.
Thanks to the passenger mix at Zurich, traffic volumes made a good recovery, especially in the second half of the year following considerable easing of travel restrictions. Along with trips to visit friends and relations, leisure travellers were the main driver here. Various new offerings in this segment came on stream in the summer flight timetable. Our hub carrier Swiss International Air Lines offered two new routes to the Estonian capital Tallinn plus Billund in Denmark. Edelweiss Air added Jamaica plus two airports in Tanzania as well as Sal on Cape Verde and Luxor in Egypt to its timetable. A new airline – Condor – offered flights to vacation destinations from Zurich. At the beginning of November, the USA further boosted travel by reopening its borders to vaccinated travellers, as did Singapore with the introduction of its “Vaccinated Travel Lane”. Finnair, Air Canada, Oman Air and American Airlines also returned to Zurich in the course of the reporting year.
Renovation of runway 10/28
2021 saw the preparatory work carried out at Zurich Airport ahead of the planned renovation of the heavily worn pavement either side of the centerline which is set to commence at the end of March 2022. The runway will be replaced stage by stage during the night when there are no flight operations. The work will not affect regular daytime operations. Neighbouring communities were consulted on measures to minimise the impact of construction noise.
We continued to maintain our high standards of service throughout the second year of the pandemic. We are therefore all the more delighted that Zurich Airport’s service quality was once again recognised by winning the Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award as the best European airport in the category “airports with between 25 and 40 million passengers”. The ASQ Awards are presented annually by Airports Council International (ACI) World, the international umbrella organisation for airport operators. Following on from 2006, 2008, 2018 and 2019, this is the fifth time Zurich Airport has taken first place in an ASQ Award. Zurich Airport also received the prestigious World Travel Award for the best airport in Europe for the 18th time in succession.
Real estate and commercial centers
Retail and real estate development
For Swiss retailers, and especially for the hospitality sector, the restrictions imposed during the first half of 2021 had a drastic impact. While stores were able to reopen at the beginning of March, restaurants were not allowed to open their indoor areas until the beginning of June. Along with the drop in passenger numbers, the work from home rules imposed in the spring followed by home working recommendations for large parts of the year, also led to a fall in commuter footfall, which likewise negatively impacted our commercial business. It nonetheless proved possible to find individual solutions for our commercial partners depending on the degree to which they were affected. In conjunction with the rising number of passengers and commuters, the reopening of hospitality venues triggered an appreciable upswing.
With its attractive mix of amenities, services and events and adjacent large park, the Circle already succeeded in becoming a popular destination during its first year of operation. The Hyatt Regency Zurich Airport The Circle hotel opened its doors in April, complete with an attractive range of wining and dining options including Middle Eastern restaurant Babel and Bar Iris. The Circle Convention Center also opened at the same time. Some 350 conferences and other events were held already during the reporting year. The opening in mid-December of the Hyatt Place Zurich Airport The Circle hotel, including its ZOOM restaurant and bar, rounded off Zurich Airport’s hotel and conference offering. This also marked the official completion of the major project The Circle. Numerous new tenants opened premises in 2021, including AMAG’s e-mobility hub and Bruno Wickart’s showroom featuring a range of designer furniture and home accessories. The Circle celebrated a “Quartierfest” in September, while a major highlight was the first ever “Zauberpark” festival of music and light held in the airport park from 25 November to 12 December 2021. The Zauberpark welcomed some 28,000 visitors over the 18 days of the festival – next year’s edition is already in the pipeline.
Airport Shopping and Airside Center
Zurich Airport remains an attractive retail destination even amid challenging times. During the spring, new arrivals including bio local expanded the range of landside food shopping options. Along with the new Sprüngli Café, for example, fashion boutique Bayard opened in Airport Shopping. In the Airside Center, upmarket lifestyle brand Aesop opened its first airport boutique outside its home market of Australia. Capi Electronics likewise opened an outlet offering travellers a range of electronic consumer lifestyle products. Until May 2022, Highsnobiety will also be offering a curated range of over 15 international lifestyle brands in its GATEZERO concept store.
In October, Zurich was the first airport in the world to offer Google Maps Live View. Using their smartphone camera, passengers and visitors are guided to their chosen destination at the airport by on-screen directions. In September, Zurich Airport’s new web presence received several prizes at the Best of Swiss Web Awards 2021.
Development projects and infrastructure at Zurich Airport
Upgrading and expansion of baggage sorting system
So far there have been no major construction delays resulting from the pandemic, and the core infrastructure was installed on schedule. Staff were already able to move into the new operating offices spread over two floors during the summer. Work on the new building was finished at the end of the year. Although scheduled for completion in 2025, some parts of the project will come on stream sooner.
Expansion of landside passenger zones
This major project is pivotal for the use of all landside zones. During the year under review, the trench excavation, lining work on the SBB tunnel and the first concrete-pouring phases were completed. Opening of the new landside passenger areas is scheduled for the end of 2026 at the latest. These will include retail outlets, underground logistics and a ground-level food hall.
Development of the main airport complex
The architecture competition for the new Dock A and dock base including the tower was run during the reporting year and will end in the 2nd quarter of 2022. The aim of the project is to renew parts of the central airport infrastructure as these are approaching end of life. Construction work is planned to commence in 2024.
International airport business
Once the first phase of the major project Noida International Airport in India has been completed in 2024, together with its Latin American airports Flughafen Zürich AG will hold some CHF 1 billion in foreign investments. This represents around 20% of our net assets. All these investments are in emerging markets and offer long-term growth perspectives for our core aviation business.
In view of its growing importance, international business was hived off into a separate “International” division within Flughafen Zürich AG with effect from 1 May 2021. The Board of Directors appointed Daniel Bircher to head up this new division and he consequently joined the Management Board of Flughafen Zürich AG. Daniel Bircher has worked for Flughafen Zürich AG since 2006. He was Chief Operation Officer in India and Brazil, and was latterly CEO of Zurich Airport International Asia in Malaysia.
India: major project Noida International Airport
Currently the company’s largest development project outside Switzerland is Noida International Airport, around 80 kilometres southeast of Delhi. This airport is of great economic significance to the whole Delhi metropolitan area. It will form a central plank of transport links between the National Capital Region and the state of Uttar Pradesh with India’s other regions and with further international centers. With new freight and logistics infrastructures, Noida International Airport will also be a key driver of growth in the industrial corridor and create many new jobs. When it commences operation, the new airport will be able to handle 12 million passengers a year. The concession for the construction and operation will run for 40 years.
In August 2021, the masterplan was approved by the authorities, the land for the project (1334 hectares) was handed over, and the financing agreements with the State Bank of India were signed. The official ground-breaking ceremony was held at the end of November in the presence of India’s Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of the State of Uttar Pradesh.
The concession for construction and supplying fuel was awarded to an Indian consortium prior to the end of 2021. Construction contracts are due to be concluded in the next few weeks. Further key contracts, such as for freight, catering or the airport hotel for example, will then be awarded over the course of the year. The airport is scheduled to commence operation towards the end of 2024.
Latin America: strong recovery
The airport projects in Brazil and Chile are robust and were hitherto able to weather the crisis under their own steam. Thanks to numerous efficiency measures, such as combining the operational management of the Brazilian airports in which the company has a majority interest, costs were reduced. Compensation for Covid-related loss of revenue was negotiated with Brazilian government offices. The passenger-dependent operating licences in Chile were automatically extended.
In Macaé, plans for building a new terminal have been completed, and in Vitória the preliminary work for a large-scale real estate development at the airport has reached an advanced stage. Expansion of the terminal in Iquique is almost complete, which will more than double the airport’s capacity. Florianópolis and Vitória airports ranked first and third in passenger satisfaction surveys.