Regional contribution

The Zurich Airport Group provides excellent infrastructure at its airports that is of benefit to the entire region.


The Zurich Airport Group makes a significant contribution to economic and social development in all the regions where its airports are located. As a responsible company and major regional player, its activities impact not only its own business, they also exert a positive influence on the wider economy and society at large. By providing flight connections to a wide range of destinations, it performs the key service of linking a region, or indeed an entire country, to the world. Airports also help to create jobs and generate economic value in a region, not just directly but also indirectly at local suppliers. They make a further valuable contribution as land-based transport hubs, as places for meeting up or for leisure activities and shopping, and as partners in research and education. Last but not least, the Zurich Airport Group’s regional sponsorship programmes help encourage a diversity of cultural life in the regions around its airports.

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Approach and progress

Direct flights as a locational factor

The role of Zurich Airport as a European gateway to the global aviation network is both a requirement of its operating licence from the Swiss government and is anchored in the company’s mission. Fulfilling this mandate for the benefit of Switzerland is an integral part of the company’s identity.

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The European and intercontinental flights offered at Zurich Airport are key locational factors for the region. As well as attracting and helping businesses to grow, they bring tourists to the region and make it a highly desirable place to live and work. Along with passenger transport, freight is also an important economic driver.

The Zurich Airport Group is actively striving to maintain existing direct flights at Zurich Airport and launch attractive new ones by liaising with airlines to identify potential routes.

The availability of direct flights from Zurich Airport fell drastically during the pandemic. The route network recovered only hesitantly over the course of 2021 and was further impacted by constantly changing travel rules. In the year under review, airlines flew to 177 destinations (2019: 203) in 66 countries (2019: 69).

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Regional wealth creation

The airports operated by the Zurich Airport Group generate considerable economic value and influence the economic performance of the entire region in myriad ways.

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Each year the Zurich Airport Group invests several hundred million Swiss francs into upgrading or expanding infrastructure. Since its privatisation in 2000, the company has invested an average of CHF 1 million per working day in developing and maintaining Zurich Airport. It consequently helps to shape the region’s identity, provides jobs and income, and is a major construction industry client. Owing to the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, investment during the year under review was lower than in the years preceding the crisis. See the Business update section for information on current development projects.

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Over the course of 2021, the Zurich Airport Group invested considerable sums of money in infrastructure at its foreign sites, specifically in the new terminal at Iquique Airport in Chile and in preparatory work for the new Noida Airport in India. Investments in its international subsidiaries, especially in India, are set to increase substantially over the coming years.

Other companies and their employees also benefit from supplier and service relationships. Wherever possible – in compliance with applicable public procurement rules – Flughafen Zürich AG awards contracts to local companies. Times of difficulty such as the present crisis have proved how valuable regional supply chains can be.

Flughafen Zürich AG counts as a government contracting entity in the transport sector and is therefore obliged to comply with public procurement law. This applies both to procurements covered by the relevant international treaties as part of GATT/WTO or with the EU and those not covered by such agreements.

Since 1 July 2021, invitations to tender have been issued in accordance with federal law rather than cantonal law.

Suppliers are not systematically vetted with regard to sustainable business practices in Flughafen Zürich AG’s supplier management system. In specific instances where social, environmental or ethical risks may be assumed because of the source of a product or the nature of the sector concerned, suppliers are assessed on the basis of certificates and standards to ensure compliance with the labour standards prescribed by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Flughafen Zürich AG last commissioned Infras/BAK Basel to conduct a study on the economic importance of Zurich Airport in 2017. It reported that Zurich Airport generates approximately the same amount of value as a medium-sized Swiss town. The estimated added value of CHF 5 billion is equivalent to around 3.5% of the gross domestic product of the canton of Zurich.

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The importance of local procurement relationships at Zurich Airport is evident from the volume of contracts awarded to local suppliers in the cantons of Zurich, Zug, Aargau, Schaffhausen, Thurgau, Schwyz and St. Gallen. In the year under review, 82% (CHF 294 million) of the parent company’s procurement total of approximately CHF 360 million went to local companies.

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Flughafen Zürich AG’s business activities also benefit the regions and countries where its airports are located thanks to the charges and taxes they generate. Since its privatisation in 2000, Flughafen Zürich AG has paid direct taxes of around CHF 716 million in Switzerland and CHF 475 million in dividends has flowed into the public purse (Confederation, canton, city and municipalities). In financial terms alone, its contribution thus amounts to over CHF 1.2 billion over the last twenty years.

In the case of its international subsidiaries, concession fees for the operation of the airports concerned are also paid to the respective governments. These fees are payable either at the time the concession agreement is signed or are spread over the term of the concession. See  Note 24.7 for further details.

Meeting and recreation spaces

Beyond the provision of flights, airports are public spaces where people come to meet up and enjoy recreational activities. By offering access to shopping centres, service providers, leisure and experiential activities, Zurich Airport plays an important role in the everyday lives of the people who live and work in the region. It also puts the company’s business model on a broader footing.

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Zurich Airport furthermore functions as a central public transport hub for north Zurich, connecting to both local and intercity services. With around 450 train, 400 tram and 800 bus services daily, Zurich Airport is one of the best-connected locations in Switzerland. A statutory requirement in relation to access traffic to the airport stipulates that the proportion of public transport used must be at least 42% by 2020 and 46% by 2030. At the time it was last measured in 2017, this figure was 44% so the target for 2020 had already been exceeded. After consulting the relevant authorities, it was decided not to carry out the next survey as scheduled during the reporting year because of the extraordinary circumstances created by the pandemic.

Zurich Airport offers a wide range of experiences that convey the fascination of airports and also invite visitors to explore aspects of nature and the environment as well as impressive architecture and passenger processes. A number of guided tours and bus trips run every day, some in collaboration with the airport’s partner companies. The airport is also a popular place to hold conferences, business meetings and events of all kinds. The two observation decks at Docks B and E allow visitors to experience flight operations up close. Following the opening of the Circle, a new park provides 80,000 m2 of recreational green space to spend time exploring or meeting up with people. More new attractions such as ranger talks were launched during the reporting year.

With numerous cafés and restaurants, plane spotting locations and nature conservation areas, the immediate environs of Zurich Airport also offer further recreational spaces that draw additional visitors. During the year under review Zurich Airport carried out work to attract more people to the eastern side of the airport. Apprentices from the airport and its partner companies refurbished seven barbecue areas alongside the airport fence and extended one to make it accessible for people with limited mobility.

The Zurich Airport Group also adapted the concept of airports as recreational destinations to its subsidiaries abroad, especially in Florianópolis, Brazil. As well as the newly built terminal, in a first for Brazil a 11,000 m2 leisure and amusement area for dining, shopping and watching concerts was developed. The observation deck has also proved to be popular with visitors as a place to meet. A variety of cultural and sporting events are put on for the general public at both Florianópolis and Vitória airports.

The table below shows participant numbers for guided tours, bus trips and events at Zurich Airport. The wide variation in the figures is due to special events and the cancellation of activities as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Zurich Airport (Zurich site)













Guided tours, bus tours and events conducted


Number of groups












Number of persons




144,324 1)







1) includes "Airport Experience Weekend" as part of 70th anniversary celebrations

Partner in research and education

Flughafen Zürich AG supports universities and organisations engaged in research and teaching, and makes an important contribution in a regional context too. It maintains relationships with universities and institutions such as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), the University of St. Gallen or the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. It makes staff available for practice-centered lectures, monitoring of case studies or reviewing dissertations. Flughafen Zürich AG also plays a role in providing graduate employment opportunities. Universities and organisations furthermore make use of Zurich Airport’s resources as a platform for hands-on research into new technologies, for aviation-related topics in particular, but also generally in relation to vehicles, environmental protection, energy and safety.

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One prime example of a partnership with a start-up that benefited from Flughafen Zürich AG’s input is the agreement with Synhelion, a company aiming to produce synthetic fuel at scale using solar energy (see Energy and climate section).

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An innovation lab was opened at Florianópolis Airport during the year under review. The “Laboratório inovação” pulls together research and development with partners at the airport to drive technological and process-based innovations. In collaboration with the authorities, biometric boarding was trialled for the first time in Brazil during the reporting year.


The Zurich Airport Group makes a valuable contribution to cultural and social diversity in the regions around its airports through sponsorships. It has drawn up a sponsorship concept setting out its objectives and approaches. In Zurich the company supports events and clubs based near the airport in particular. Associations, clubs and institutions from the travel and tourism industry also receive sponsorship. The company enters into strategic partnerships with individual initiatives or associations, for example with Switzerland Tourism or with the Swiss Museum of Transport. Sponsorship may take the form of money, in-kind services, promotional gifts or the use of meeting rooms, for instance. The extent of sponsorship was temporarily curtailed during the reporting year owing to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and reduction in the number of events.

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In Brazil, sponsored cultural events are often held directly at the airport. Social initiatives for families in need in the vicinity of the company’s airports in Brazil and Chile are often supported too. In Chile, for instance, support was provided to owners of small firms that were struggling to survive because of the pandemic.

As Flughafen Zürich AG is its main sponsor, the highest monetary sponsorship in the Zurich region during the reporting year went to the Young Flyers. Over 650 youngsters belong to this ice hockey association. Many smaller local clubs and organisations also benefited from sponsorship money.

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